How Deion Sanders, Colorado football earned 'hard' commitment from LCA's Ju'Juan Johnson
Ju'Juan Johnson's love for his home state knows no bounds, and on his visit to Deion Sanders' Colorado football program a couple of weekends ago, he made it known.
"I told the coaches from Colorado it was going to be hard to get me from (Louisiana) because I love this place," Johnson said. "But my relationship with Coach Prime and his foundation, it won me over honestly."
The four-star senior athlete from Lafayette Christian Academy had 20-plus offers from the biggest names in college football, including Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma and others, but had narrowed his list to LSU, Florida and Colorado.
Johnson pledged his commitment, against his love for Louisiana, to Sanders and the Buffaloes on Saturday.
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Sanders and Colorado's staff sold Johnson (5-foot-11, 180 pounds), the state's second-best recruit, by extending him an opportunity to possibly play both sides of the ball. Johnson said the other schools recruiting him were only looking to play him on either offense or defense.
"The thing that got me was (Sanders) telling me he's going to be use me as an athlete, not on just one side of the ball," Johnson said. "When I heard that, that's what got me.
"It's fantastic to have a dude that's the greatest of all-time, and he's got the gold jacket to prove it. It's good to have that coach at that position. Him being a coach that plays people on both sides like Travis Hunter, that was a deciding factor to me."
Johnson hasn't played significant snaps at cornerback, but that's where he projects to play in college. At the quarterback position as a junior, he led Knights back to the state championship game with one of the more remarkable runs in the playoffs and finished the season with 4,140 passing yards to go with 1,347 rushing yards and 60 total touchdowns.
Being seen and recruited as an athlete was important for Johnson because he knows he can impact the game in multiple ways.
So why is Sanders taking the chance on Johnson no other coach would?
"I feel like he seen the film. He knew that I wasn't just a one-sided player. He knew I could impact the game both ways," Johnson said. "He told I'm going to have to work to be an athlete over here. 'You have to show me you can be dynamic on both sides of the ball, show me that you can be great to play both sides.'
"I'm up for that challenge."
Apart from on-the-field, Johnson was just as drawn to Sanders, the culture in his program and what he values.
"They're building a foundation over there. That was something that I wanted to be a part of. Coach Prime, what he's building over there, the culture he's bringing. It's about becoming a man," Johnson said. "As y'all know, he's a Christian man. So I'm still going to be learning about all that I'm learning about here at LCA. That was the reason why I chose him.
"His culture is not worrying about football, just like (former LCA) coach Trev (Faulk). Not everything is about football. It's about being more of a father figure to his players instead of just a coach," Johnson said. "I think that's what makes the foundation great. It's a great feeling to finally commit to him, knowing that that's where I'm going to play."
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: How Deion Sanders earned 'hard' commitment from LCA's Ju'Juan Johnson