March 10, 2009

Johnson hearing strong sales pitches from in-state teams

Hattiesburg (Oak Grove), Miss., wide receiver Robert Johnson is getting the hard sales pitch from at least three corners, and there are still almost 11 months until National Signing Day.

Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 196-pounder who wowed Ole Miss coaches at the Rebels' camp last summer, has already picked up four scholarship offers, taken in one junior day and has made plans to show his wares at an invitation-only camp this summer.

The main three programs in Mississippi _ Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss _ have all offered scholarships, as has Alcorn State. The Magnolia State teams are making unique sales pitches, and so far, they've all been at least somewhat effective. Still, there's no leader yet for Johnson's services. Robert Johnson:

"It's too early," said Johnson, who rushed 31 times for 276 yards while catching 48 passes for 632 yards last season.

Ole Miss wide receivers coach Ron Dickerson Jr., is recruiting Johnson for the Rebels. Dickerson's pitch: "I need you," Johnson said, quoting Dickerson. "I plan on making it to one of their camps over the summer. I couldn't make it to the junior day. …That 'Wild Rebel,' thing they have, we have that over here at Oak Grove," Johnson said. "I'm familiar with that, too. We call it 'The Cheetah.' I'm the running back. Jay Hughes is the quarterback."

Johnson did attend a recent junior day at Mississippi State, where he got a chance to spend some time with new Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, formerly the offensive coordinator at Florida.

"It went good," Johnson said. "I met with all of the coaches. They showed us around the dorm rooms, the facilities, the locker rooms, the weight rooms. Everything went good. …I think State doesn't have any receivers coming back, so I'm looking at State right now. I'm very interested (to see how the Bulldogs look on the field in 2009). I like the Florida offense that he ran at Florida. He said he's running the same thing at State, and it's not too far from what we run over here at Oak Grove. I'd be real familiar with the offense.

"They want me to be their Percy Harvin, playing both (running back and wide receiver), but more than likely, I'll try to be a receiver."

Then there's Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles can't market the Southeastern Conference connection, but they're closest to home, obviously, and that's a powerful recruiting tool as well.

"There's a whole bunch of local pressure," Johnson said. "It's like I want to stay home, but then again, I don't. It's hard, man. I want to see my family and I want them to see me play, but I've got family in Starkville, too. I'll have to talk to my momma about that."

Johnson said that while some schools are talking about him playing some running back as well as wide receiver, he believes his future is at the receiver position, not in the offensive backfield.

"I'm a good possession receiver who can get a lot of yards after the catch and I can go deep too," Johnson said. "I'm a deep threat."

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