Demetrius Johnson's dual skill set showed last week when he caught a 35-yard touchdown pass and also returned an interception 78 yards for a touchdown in Annapolis Area Christian's 42-8 win over Friends. The senior is rated a 4-star wide receiver by Rivals.com, which also ranks him the No. 3 overall senior recruit in Maryland and the No. 24 senior recruit in the nation at wide receiver.
But Johnson, at 6 feet 2 and 210 pounds, is projected by most to play safety in college and is fielding offers from Maryland, Syracuse, Hawaii, North Carolina State, Marshall and Old Dominion. Only Marshall is recruiting him as a wide receiver.
He is the only Baltimore-area player selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. He will also play in the Maryland Crab Bowl.
Johnson followed his brothers Marlon, 21, and Michael, 19, into football and if the Eagles can beat St. Vincent Pallotti Friday to earn a berth in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship, he will close out his high school career in the title game on Nov. 9.
Did you play football in the backyard with your brothers?
It was scary actually, because they're bigger than me. It was fun and I could learn from them since they were older, but they ganged up on me all the time. They'd just come and tackle me, but that made me tougher, way tougher.
What position did you play first?
My first position was tackle and defensive tackle. I didn't know anything about football, so they just put me there. My brother Michael, I had to play football with him, because I didn't know how to do anything (laughs). He was pretty helpful.
When did you start playing offense?
I became a wide receiver in seventh or eighth grade when I played little league football for the Chargers. They had me at running back and they had me play receiver, too, and that's when I fell in love with receiver.
What do you like about it?
Just play making. The one second left, you catch the ball in the end zone, everybody's looking at you.
Which do you like better, offense or defense?
It's kind of even now. I used to like offense the most, then everybody started telling me that I'm most likely to play defensive back in college because I have a nose for the ball, so then it just became equal.
What's been the biggest challenge in adapting to defensive back?
Playing defensive back, I think, is being able to back-pedal and keep everything in front of you. It was sort of hard to learn, getting the footwork and everything down. It's basically the same thing as receiver, just backward.
Where are you in the recruiting process?
I'm just still trying to figure it out. It's kind of hard now, because it's during football season and trying to play football and do school, it's hard.
Playing at a small school like Annapolis Area Christian, how do you get on a college coach's radar?
Camps and 7-on-7s and how you perform on the field, basically. Last summer, I did a Rivals camp and I did 7-on-7s with the school team.
When did you get your first offer (from Maryland)?
Sophomore year, when we played Red Lion Christian at the Navy stadium. I had a great game. It was my first game actually playing here at this school. I didn't know what I was doing really. They just, like, threw me in there and I just started going with the flow.
Playing at such a small school that doesn't really get a lot of attention for football, did you ever think about going to a bigger program?
No, not really, because coach (Ken) Lucas is a great coach. He gets your name out there and helps you with the recruiting process.
How has your role changed now that you're a senior?
I'm a leader and I have to show ways of not giving up and just giving 100 percent. I'm not really used to it (the leadership role) but it comes with the territory. It's easier on the field.
How did you find out you were chosen for the Army Bowl?
Coach Lucas called me and told me. I was actually walking my dog. I was really surprised and I was thinking, "out of all the kids, they picked me." That's when I ran back to the house with my dog to tell my dad and mom.
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