It’s now Tyron Johnson’s turn.
The torch, carried so admirably last season by St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette, has now been passed to him.
Johnson, Warren Easton’s standout wide receiver, now gets to catch a glimpse of that Fournette life and see how things are when you are considered not only the most sought after recruit in New Orleans and all of Louisiana, but also one of the top guys in the country.
“I’m ready for it,” Johnson said Friday night, just four days after vaulting from one of nation’s top recruits to in-a-league-of-his-own status.
On Monday, Johnson earned a fifth star by recruiting service rivals.com and leapfrogged to the sixth-ranked player in the country on the Rivals Top 100. He was the No. 43 ranked prospect in the previous rivals ranking.
Johnson is also now ranked the top receiver in the country in the Class of 2015.
“There was a lot to love about him,” said Jason Howell, Rivals mid-south recruiting analyst.
“He runs really great routes. He has great feet. He is one of those ultimate competitor types. He doesn’t get intimidated, and he plays with a great deal of confidence. He catches everything in front of him. When you combine what he brings from the technique aspect with his athletic ability, he was at the top of the list for us. It wasn’t a hard discussion for us at all.”
You won’t get any arguments from defensive back Charven Morris, Johnson’s teammate who often gets to go head-to-head with him in practice.
“I don’t think anyone can check him one-on-one,” Morris said. “I mean nobody. All of the little things that he does, he does them every play. It’s like he doesn’t take any plays off. The good thing is that he isn’t getting the big head. He is still putting the team before everybody else.”
Johnson perhaps could get the big head, especially on days like Monday when the word began spreading about him being named the nation’s top receiver. His phone never stopped ringing as folks called and sent text messages.
His coaches even joked with him that he no longer has to come to practice now that he is a five-star recruit.
“It’s a great honor,” Johnson said. “It means a lot. It’s what I was working for. You want to be the best.
“When I was a four star, I felt empty and felt like I didn’t work hard enough. That made me work harder for that five star. I have God-given talent, but in the offseason, I had to work to get better on my craft.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Johnson has spent most of that time improving his route running, which should help him improve even more on the eye-popping numbers he put up last season in Easton’s high-octane offense.
He caught 87 passes for 1,433 yards and 13 touchdowns and helped the Eagles reach the Class 4A quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion East Jefferson.
But Johnson said he isn’t concerned about the rankings and the stats.
“I am going to try to just block it all out and stay focused on the main goal and that is to win games,” Johnson said. “I am not trying to put the big stats up and all of that. I am just trying to win for my team.”
Johnson would have loved that opportunity to help his team Friday as Warren Easton concluded spring practice with a game against St. Augustine.
Johnson watched from the press box, itching to play in a game that, despite being a just a scrimmage, had a real-game feel and intensity.
Easton coach Tony Hull decided to hold Johnson out of the game, his future much too bright to ruin on a meaningless scrimmage.
He didn’t get to show off that elusiveness that made one of his park league coaches start calling him “Houdini” when he was a kid.
It was back then that Johnson realized he had a chance to be special.
“When he started calling me that, that’s when I started thinking football could be my ticket somewhere,” Johnson said. “I knew I had to remove myself from bad crowds and stay focused. I know I have to say humble and keep doing what I have to do.”
But things are about to get crazy for Johnson.
He already has over 30 scholarship offers, including offers from all 14 Southeastern Conference schools.
“I minimize it by giving them my dad’s number, and let them blow up his phone so I won’t have to stress with all of that,” Johnson said.
He hasn’t started narrowing his list down yet.
But he is looking for a school that is the best fit.
“Do they throw the ball? How are the coaches?” he explained.
Like Fournette, he plans to announce his decision during the Under-Armour All-American game. That is still seven months away.
Fournette, who watched his former St. Aug team beat Johnson’s current team Friday, offers this bit of advice to Johnson.
“I would tell him is to make sure he takes his time with everything,” Fournette said. “Your senior year goes by very fast. Make sure he enjoys and has fun and go out with a bang. Leave a mark. Be better than you were last season. I’ve talked to him before, and he gets the picture of how critical everything is. Not just football, but everything outside of football is important too because people are watching.”
Johnson knows that.
“I know it’s going to get even worse,” he said.
But while the chaos of recruiting and being under the microscope gets worse, Johnson plans to get better.
He isn’t satisfied with being the No. 6 recruit in the country.
He’d like nothing more than to give the city of New Orleans the No. 1 recruit in the nation for a second straight year.
“That’s motivation too,” Johnson said. “I know everybody can’t be No. 1, but I can at least work toward it. That will just make me better.”