FOOTBALL: Seventh-grade quarterback Sam Johnson already making a name for himself
DETROIT – He hasn’t even been to his junior prom yet, and seventh-grader, Sam Johnson III, is already being regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. No.3 in the class of 2019 to be exact by.
And whether he really is or not, or whether some think ranking 13-year-olds at this stage of their careers is taking it too far, that’s quite the accomplishment for someone who can’t even get their driver’s permit yet. Johnson was at the NFLHSPD camp on Wednesday, at Detroit East English Village Prep, where he was the talk of the camp.
"All the rankings and attention is good and all, but I still feel I can do better," Johnson said. "I’ve been able to stay humble, and not get the big-head. I don’t go around talking to other players saying that I’m the best at this and that."
Johnson’s game certainly sticks stands out, maybe even more than his physical appearance does. I’m only 5-foot-7, and done growing, while Johnson stands at a legit 6-foot-1, and hasn’t even his growth spurt yet.
He’s a really skinny, and lanky prospect right now, but once again, he’s only in the seventh-grade. He has great zip on the ball, good mechanics for his age, and could probably start for a high-school junior varsity team right now, because of how hard he has worked.
"Everyday I do football, and speed training after I do my homework," Johnson said. "After I’m done, I get dressed, and I go do about 2-3 hours of football training."
The quarterback position is arguably the most scrutinized position at all levels of football, but can be the most rewarding as well. Johnson carries himself in a mature enough way to understand all of that, and knows he has to continue to work hard and not settle. He trains with one of the top quarterback gurus in the country, in Donovan Dooley of QuarterbackU, his P.A.L. coach Kevin Rogers, and with elite trainer in the area, John Vickers, of H.Y.PE.
"There is no other position on the field like quarterback," Johnson said. "No other player can touch the ball on every play, and everything is dependent all on them.
"I know that I’ll have to keep working on my footwork, leadership, and mechanics more, but that won’t be a problem, because I do that almost everyday."
Johnson played for the Westside Rams B-team last season, that went undefeated, and claimed two championship trophies. He will play for the Detroit Spartans A-team in the fall, before heading off for high school in the fall of 2015. Johnson was unsure of where he would play in high school, but his father, Sam II, had some idea of what they would be looking for in a program.
"Academics will come first," he said. "And a school that fits his style of play; a passing attack offense."
Johnson will certainly be a name to remember once it’s his time to enter high school, and looks to be a special player once he gets there, with how far ahead he is of most players his age, and most importantly at his position.
But even with all the attention being given to him because of his football talents, the elder Johnson still tries to let his son be a teenager, and take his mind off the game every once in a while.
"It’s kind of hard," he said. "Just the other day, he told me he was born to play this position.
"But I try to keep things in perspective by letting him be involved in a lot of school activities, such as after school programs. Just going to the recreational center is where he spends a lot of time with his friends as well."