The good ones somehow get found.
Though Kristian Johnson, a 6-3, 240-pound tight end, was part of consecutive 0-11 football seasons at Monsignor Bonner High, his buttons are now bursting with pride because he just accepted a scholarship to Delaware State.
"I was kind of nervous how things were going to go, since our team didn't do too well," Johnson said. "You're thinking, 'Why would anyone come see me?' But in the Catholic Red, you play a lot of good teams, and scouts are coming to see their players and you can make an impression that way.
"I also had a highlight tape. I heard from coach Hall [Derek, assistant to Al Lavan] right before we played St. Joe's Prep [in late October]. He said he liked my game against Episcopal. How I was aggressive and finished my blocks and was able to get yards after the catch. Knowing they were interested got me pretty excited."
Johnson also received contact from Temple, Villanova, Connecticut, Illinois, Illinois State and West Chester. January visits to some were discussed.
Then came last weekend. Kristian and his mother, Shawn, headed from their Lansdowne home to Del State in Dover. One look was sufficient.
"I had a really good feeling about the place," said Johnson, whose cousin, Chris Johnson, this year quarterbacked Roman to the Red title; Kristian was a Cahillite through 10th grade. "My mom liked it, too. She likes how hands-on the coaching staff and administration are with the players, especially for academics. They're more concerned with that than anything else."
Two Philly products, defensive back Akeem Green (Edward Bok Tech) and offensive lineman Kellen "Bubba" Kemp (Cardinal Dougherty), this year were prominent players as the Hornets earned their first-ever appearance in a I-AA playoff. Kemp was one of Johnson's official-visit hosts.
In the just-completed season, Johnson made 25 catches for 312 yards and four touchdowns. Also, with the Thanksgiving Eve game against Archbishop Carroll winding down, he lined up in shotgun formation and completed a bomb for a 45-yard gain.
Johnson plans to major in business. Maybe he'll minor in bugging the coaches for a shot at playing quarterback. *