May 21, 2010

Skyline continues to produce top talent

Dallas Skyline's class of 2010 produced 11 prospects signing with FBS programs. That is unusually high, even for the Raiders who have been a perennial power in the Metroplex for several years. With the loss of those seniors, Skyline looks for new stars to pick up the slack and one of the guys expected to do just that is receiver Thomas Johnson. Unlike some of his teammates, Johnson isn't exactly a newcomer to varsity football after transferring to Skyline from Arlington Oak Ridge, where he played quarterback in 2009.

Johnson faced a few challenges during his transfer to Skyline, outside the expected hardship making new friends and becoming comfortable in his new surroundings. The transfer to a new position on the football field is just as opposing as the one in the classroom for Johnson, forcing him to learn new things and adjust how he thinks.

"This is my first year of being a true receiver," he said. "I always wanted be a receiver. I have to make sure that I'm catching the ball. That's the most important thing. I'm getting our scheme down and learning to run routes.

"Playing quarterback in the passing game is different than playing receiver. At receiver you have to understand routes and where everyone is. If it's a zone, you have to push the defender to a certain depth to open up other routes. When I was a quarterback I read coverages and looked at the safety to see if he was dropping deep or see how far off the cornerback was."

Another challenge facing Johnson is replacing four star wide-out Mike Davis, who was a fixture in Skyline's passing game for the past two years and legend around the east Dallas campus.

"I don't compare myself to Mike," Johnson said of the Skyline alum, "but even before I came there the coaching staff was telling people that I was better than Mike. That's some pretty big shoes to fill."

Johnson's name first surfaced in the recruiting world after a dominant performance at the Nike camp in Fort Worth last month, cut short by shoulder injury sustained while working drills. Despite his natural physical talent, there is a learning curve when entering Skyline, with so many talented prospects creating a unique atmosphere.

"There are plenty of schools out there every day," he said. "I'm not paying attention to see who it is. I focus on practice I'm not trying to get a scholarship right now. Today it was UTEP and Houston. Yesterday it was Miami and Oklahoma State. A couple of weeks ago it was Texas. I know that Arkansas, BYU, Arizona, and Oklahoma have been by too."

Johnson has not been invited to summer camps, therefore has no planned, but is looking at taking a few unofficial visits this summer. Scheduling these visits will be made difficult by a grueling summer program for Skyline football players that will include 7-on-7 tournaments and informal workouts.

"I don't have a certain college that I want to go to," Johnson said. "I want to look at schools that have my major but I don't know what that would be yet. I want a school with prestige and where I feel like I'm at home but that's it."

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Johnson moved from receiver to quarterback after Oak Ridge's starter was injured two games into the season, rushing for 1,626 yards and 25 touchdowns, while throwing for another 1,095 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2009.

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