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December 31, 2007

Patrick Johnson down to three schools

SAN ANTONIO - The big news came from Patrick Johnson soon after he arrived at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Sunday.

The Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely cornerback had narrowed his list to three - and the school he was formerly committed to, Miami, did not make the cut. Instead, Johnson will pick Florida, LSU or Florida State when he makes his announcement Saturday during the bowl game.

"I feel the positive vibe from all those coaches," Johnson said. "(Miami) coach (Randy) Shannon is a great guy but ever since I committed, everything went downhill. He didn't call me like all the other coaches called me. I was committed and the other coaches saw something in me where, 'We can get that guy' so I opened back up."

About two years ago, Johnson was not even playing football because his father, Patrick Peterson, made him sit out his sophomore season to focus on academics. It was a difficult time especially since it was clear Johnson was an elite talent. But the books came first and Johnson said he now realizes the decision was aimed at his best interests.

"I never saw a football game my whole sophomore year," Johnson said. "It was very, very emotional but I had to take it in and I had to get some things straight. My dad is very big on discipline so he sat me down and I came back strong my junior and senior year.

"I always had the potential to hit the books but it was just my first year of high school. I was still working out by myself and it was giving me more motivation to go in the classroom and to get on the field."

Rated as the top cornerback in the 2008 class, Johnson is third in the Rivals.com rankings regardless of position. He finished with 21 tackles and five interceptions this season, his low statistics a sign that not many offenses dared to challenge him. Johnson had 37 stops and seven picks as a junior.

Other schools involved in his recruitment included Southern California, North Carolina, Auburn and many others. Pretty much everyone was interested but Johnson has narrowed it to a final three and his decision will be made public in less than a week.

The only two prospects rated ahead of him are Jeannette (Pa.) dual-threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who is also at the U.S. Army game, and Foley (Ala.) wide receiver Julio Jones. Johnson, who has starred at pretty much every camp he has attended, said being selected for this event is a dream.

"It was a great honor to finally get here," he said. "It was something I was dreaming about it. I'm happy to finally get down here and show my talent to the world."


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