UCLA entered the week with 2 verbally committed recruits participating in this week's pair of Nike elite football recruit events up in Oregon. Tonight they secured a 3rd, as the Bruins received the commitment of Scout 4*/Rivals 3* athlete Stephen Johnson III out of San Leandro.
I wanna thank all my Family and friends for the support I really appreciate it ! 4'sUP 8CLAP
— Stephen Johnson III (@SJ_III) July 9, 2014
Johnson picked the Bruins over Oregon, with ASU and UW along with Duke and his local program at Cal also among his finalists. He plays quarterback and defensive back for San Leandro, while scouts and college coaches believe that his future lies either at receiver or as a DB. He measures in at 6'0, 180 per his Scout.com profile, where he is rated as the #30 CB in the 2015 recruiting class. Rivals has him at 5'11, while rating him the #33 Athlete in this class. While NorCal is typically Uncle Angus's recruiting turf, Eric Yarber and Demtrice Martin get the credit for landing this commitment.
SBN Recruiting's Wescott Eberts caught up with Stephen earlier this spring at Nike's Oakland football camp. At that time, he mentioned that UCLA's interest in him was as a slot receiver, while most of his other offers saw him focusing his efforts at defensive back. That differentiation may have been one of the factors that helped bring him to Westwood.
Several factors have helped the Bruins remain in his recruitment.
"I like the coaching staff because they have a professional type of staff and the area," Johnson said. "The academics are something that I like as well."
Wescott also noted that Stephen wanted to make a final decision early in his senior season, which bodes well for him not being one of those guys waffling all the way through to signing day. While taking with 247 Sports' Justin Hopkins earlier today, he seemingly confirmed that assessment.
"I really like the coaching staff and the academic aspect. All of the coaches, Yarbs (Eric Yarber), Meat (Demetrice Martin) and (Jim) Mora made me a priority. I looked up the rosters and charted out academics and stuff and compared them last night and UCLA was the right place for me."
"I think It's done deal. If they let me take visits I might, but from my perspective I'm done and committed. I'm 100-percent Bruin."
The closing to that SBN piece also gives plenty of reasons why he would eventually become a Bruin.
When he does make a decision, academics, the coaching staff, weather, and the depth chart will all play big roles in his choice.
While our recruiting focus was with him taking advantage of the opportunities for early playing time and touches at receiver in Noel Mazzone's offense, Johnson can also play DB if needed - which he hinted at in an interview with Rivals linked below. Coach Mora's staff has shown no qualms at moving athletes to any position, so we can expect Johnson to get reps at a variety of places just to get him on the field.
"(UCLA plans to use me) as a slot receiver/DB, so I plan to play kick returner as well," Johnson said. "Mainly athlete. Depending on when I get down there we'll see what happens."
It was a really close call for the three-star recruit, who could play wide receiver or cornerback at the next level. He should also be used in the return game.
Greg Biggins also noted the talent that he could bring to the Bruin return game in his assessment on Stephen's Scout.com profile (free content), while noting his overall upside.
He's one of the fastest players in the state and will be a threat in the return game at the next level as well. He has loose hips, a strong, compact body and very quick feet. He's a tough kid and although you have to project with him since he doesn't play much DB, the upside is definitely there
Here's some video of Stephen from last fall at San Leandro.
And via Stephen's twitter account, his SPARQ results from this morning's testing at The Opening.
That is a 4.37 sec 40-yard dash, 4.09 sec shuttle and 35.2" vertical.
One more year, and Stephen will join Adarius Pickett as members of an East Bay contingent of Bruin Football players that in recent years has included Maurice Jones Drew, Drew Olson and fellow Pirate Jarrad Page among several others.
Welcome to Westwood, Stephen!