HOOVER, Ala. - Jeremy Johnson returned to where it all began.
Just a year ago, nobody knew who the 6-foot-6, 205-pound rising sophomore quarterback was. His high school coaches didn't even think he would be their starter.
"People don't know this, but when we first got here last year he wasn't even the starting quarterback," said Montgomery (Ala.) Carver head coach Billy Gresham. "Our starting quarterback was having some ups and downs, so we threw the sophomore out there. He just took off."
Did he ever. Johnson led Carver to the National Select 7-on-7 Championship finals and won it as a rising sophomore. Subsequently, he turned himself from a high school basketball star into a legitimate college football prospect who just received his first scholarship offer -- from Auburn -- last week.
The performance last year did more than give Johnson exposure -- it showed him there was a future in football if he put in the time to improve himself.
"This summer I worked as hard as I ever worked in my entire life," Johnson said. "Me coming in as a sophomore and nobody expected us to win and nobody knew me, period -- this was great for me."
Carver receiver Willie Coleman, who has scholarship offers from Memphis, Southern Miss and Northern Illinois, immediately pointed out Johnson's pocket presence and leadership when asked about his athletic signal-caller.
"He knows how to read," Coleman said. "He knows how to keep the team together. He does everything out there."
Johnson also isn't lacking confidence, which was readily apparent when he jokingly compared himself to Heisman Trophy winner Cameron Newton.
"We're near the same size," Johnson said with a grin. "By the time I get there I should be at least 215. Me and Cam, he runs better of course, but I throw better than Cam."
Auburn is the first school to offer Johnson a scholarship, but it won't be the last. Other schools will come calling soon and Johnson said he'll also consider playing basketball in college. For now, however, the Tigers have a strong, early lead for his services.
"The offer that I got, it surprised me," Johnson said. "I thank God for the offer and I want to thank Coach [Gene] Chizik, too. I'm happy that I got that first offer from them."
Johnson said he hopes to make his decision next summer. Until then, it's up to Gresham to keep the attention from going to his star player's head.
"We're hard on him, I'll be honest with you," Gresham said. "A lot of times it's hard for a young guy to have success early. We just remind him all of the time to remember what got you to where you are right now.
"He does a good job of keeping himself real settled and real grounded. We just make sure he's doing what he's supposed to do at all times, don't give him any special privileges."
Hard decision for Harper
Harding Harper seemed ready to commit to Tennessee. Then those plans got put on hold.
The three-star outside linebacker from Carver indicated Wednesday that he was close to committing to being a Vol during a visit to one of Tennessee's camps. Then, Tennessee coaches told him they had a couple of linebackers ahead of him on their board and that they'd have to wait to see how things shook out.
Harper, however, won't hold a grudge.
"I like it and everything like that," the 6-foot-1, 194-pounder said of Tennessee on Thursday. "It's great. I'm still thinking about it. I'm not going to make a decision right now."
Tennessee's hesitancy opens the door for two other SEC schools that Harper said have offered him a scholarship.
"Arkansas is big on my list right now," he said. "Vanderbilt also."
Harper said playing in the SEC is important. He also has scholarship offers from Arkansas State and Southern Miss, among other smaller schools.
Harper said he'd like to announce his decision before his senior season, but with the recent shake-up, he's not certain he'll achieve that goal.
"I'm not going to guarantee anything," Harper said.
Can I recruit?
South Carolina quarterback commitment Brendan Nosovitch said he'd like to help the Gamecocks recruit skill-position players, but they seem to already be in good shape.
"They don't have many spots open for scholarships," said the three-star prospect from Allentown (Pa.) Central Catholic. "They've committed, like, 14 guys already."
Actually, it's 15, including two receivers, a tailback and a handful of athlete prospects who might also end up on offense.
Nosovitch, who committed to South Carolina on July 12, couldn't conceal his enthusiasm about playing for Steve Spurrier.
"It's a great opportunity to get to play in the SEC under one of the best coaches in Steve Spurrier," Nosovitch said. "I'm real exited about that."
Only part of Nosovitch's talent will be on display in Hoover. In the 7-on-7 format, he won't be able to leave the pocket.
"I think what makes me a good quarterback is my ability to stay in the pocket and pass but also be able to run the ball," he said.
Nosovitch said he will continue to work on his accuracy as he prepares for college.
"The most important thing is accuracy, so I just want to work on that more," he said.
At 6-2, 275 pounds, there's not much that defensive tackle Sheldon Day can do at a 7-on-7 -- except be a cheerleader. The four-star prospect from Indianapolis Warren Central was fine with that.
"We're trying to build this chemistry on our team," Day said. "I'm just trying to help my team win. I'm getting it done, being their water boy for the day. To them I'm not a D-I prospect, I'm just Sheldon."
Day was with his team just days after receiving a scholarship offer to LSU. It was obvious he appreciated the invite.
"LSU Tigers, SEC football, big-time football -- I'm ready to take a look," Day said.
Day said he's done with summer visits, but was still impressed with a trip to Auburn last week.
"Auburn was very nice," he said. "The campus is very beautiful. The facilities are second to none. The coaches are very family-like."
With 20 scholarship offers, Day said he hasn't eliminated any team yet.
"Right now I'm still wide open," he said.