Hands, head, hard work make Johnson a winner Football: City receiver Bryant Johnson, who leads his team against Poly today, got a college scholarship with hard work on and off the field. @

November 07, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Bryant Johnson, says City coach George Petrides, is as an example of what can happen when a student-athlete is determined both on the field and in classes.

Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound wide receiver, trains hard. His bench press is nearing 300 pounds. He entered the season as a preseason All-American in several tout sheets, including The National Recruiting Advisor, which rated him No. 17 among the nation's top 22 receiver prospects for good reason. He was a second-team All-Metro player last fall.

He also studies hard, maintaining a 3.0 grade average. And that, with his 1,010 SAT score, will make him eligible to play college football as a freshman.

"Through Bryant, you can show kids that if you do well academically, you can have the world at your fingertips," Petrides said.

Little has slipped through the grasp of the player who leads City (7-2) against Poly (7-2) into today's 110th annual renewal of the schools' rivalry at Ravens Stadium.

In August, the second-team All-Metro pick orally committed to a full scholarship to Big 10 power Penn State, turning down offers from Maryland and North Carolina State. He also was pursued by Virginia Tech, Michigan and Northwestern.

"I chose Penn State, because I went to camp and I got to know the coaches. They liked my personality and my athleticism," Johnson said.

"I ran a couple of 4.3s and 4.4s up there and I only lost one race in the 40. They thought I outplayed and outran my competition."

Johnson had 114 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Patterson, whose coach, Roger Wrenn, was impressed.

"He's truly an outstanding receiver who catches the ball in the crowd and runs good patterns -- the fade, the post-corner, the slant. He can catch the ball inside or outside," Wrenn said. "But what might get overlooked is his ability on defense. It seemed he made every tackle. I was like, 'Wow, this guy is all over the place.' "

Last fall, Johnson had 44 receptions for 823 yards and 10 touchdowns. This spring, he was a state runner-up in the long jump.

"We knew Bryant would be recruited highly, because he had a good junior year the size, speed and grades," said Petrides. "I knew when coaches met him, they'd fall in love with his attitude."

DTC But with a less-talented outfit, not to mention a line with only three members heavier than 200 pounds, Petrides said he "was glad Bryant committed early, because we weren't sure he'd get the [statistics]."

Alternating from wide receiver to tight end, however, Johnson has 34 receptions for 748 yards and eight touchdowns so far this fall. On special teams, he has returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown and, as a linebacker, he has 32 solo tackles, an interception and has returned a fumble recovery 65 yards for another score.

"People don't realize Bryant's an excellent blocker," Petrides said. "If he were taller, he'd be a great Division I tight end. Bryant plays big in big games."

Johnson began playing football as a first-grader and was running track in fourth grade.

"I played so many sports as a youngster," he added. "It's really a blessing from God to have this athletic ability, but it also takes doing the job in the classroom."

Pub Date: 11/07/98

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