Monday, February 7, 2011
Making a name for himself
By Corey Long
HALLANDALE, Fla. -- He hears the comparisons to his older brother now and knows he'll hear them for the next four to five years, even though they play different positions.
That's what happens when your Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Blanche Ely) and your brother is future NFL first-round draft choice Patrick Peterson.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver generally doesn't worry about the chatter.
"I hear it, I've heard it for a long time but I'm just worried about being Avery," Johnson said. "I just want to be the best I can."
And some comparisons aren't so bad. Johnson is considered one of the elite prospects in Florida -- just like his brother was. He also plans to attend LSU after committing to the Tigers in September.
Although many fans thought it was a natural fit for Johnson, he admits he wasn't enamored with the Tigers early in the process.
"I've been around the LSU program ever since my brother committed there," Johnson said. "And to be honest I didn't really like it at first but after I started going to the games every week and hanging around the coaches and players I fell in love with the place"
While some may say he's following in Peterson's footsteps that might not be the case.
"I'm striving hard to be my own person," Johnson said. "I feel like I can make my own name at LSU."
Johnson is already on the right track. He became an Under Armour All-American earlier this year and will compete in the 2012 game.
This weekend his competitive juices were flowing at the South Florida Express 7-on-7 open tryouts.
"This event is special because there's a lot of talent down here," Johnson said. "This is where the best of the best play. If you want some talent in your college programs, come down to South Florida and get some players."
Johnson couldn't help but be a little impressed with some of his peers.
"There are a lot of nice receivers here," Johnson said. "My boy Brandon Snell (Miami, Fla./Norland) is right there doing his thing on a hurt ankle. You got [Randy Johnson (Miami, Fla./Miami Norland)] at running back here and my man Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) is one of the cornerbacks out here. He's a game changer for sure. It's a great event for a lot of guys to get some face time and some headlines."
One of Johnson's goals is to fill his offseason with competitive events and strenuous workouts. Outside of his involvement with the South Florida Express, he says he will take events as they come.
"Right now it's all about getting better every day," Johnson said. "Whether it's here or in workouts, I have to challenge myself to improve."
He says he can see the results in his game.
"Right now I'm working on coming out of my routes quicker and improving my hands," said Johnson. "I've already got good hands but they can get better so I'm working out with the tennis ball to accomplish that. I'm also doing cone drills to help with my breaks and my routes. I'm working on the ladder -- just doing a little bit of everything."
While Peterson has begun his training to prepare for the NFL combine and his future in professional football, Johnson has tried to adopt much of his big brother's regiment to help him prepare for the rigors of SEC football.
"[Coach Les Miles] has long practices; I think he goes like 22 periods or something," Johnson said. "But it's going to be a fun and challenging experience. I have to just stay humble and keep working because and someone's always working to take your spot."
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.