When junior-college defensive back Lonnie Johnson committed to Kentucky back in December, a 247Sports national recruiting analyst told the Herald-Leader all about the newest Wildcat’s versatility.
“You got a guy who can play some nickel, play corner, play safety, can blitz ’em. He’s got some serious traits,” Steve Wiltfong said at the time.
Last week, Johnson met with local reporters at Commonwealth Stadium and was asked which position he’d rather play.
“I’d rather play corner, because that’s where the money is,” Johnson said, not missing a beat. “I’m 6-3, 206 pounds. Yeah, I’d rather play corner.”
That’s where UK’s coaches want him to play, too, and that’s where he’ll likely be when he hits the field with the Wildcats this spring, though the staff has also told Johnson he might be moved over to safety — “to hit people,” he noted — if needed.
I go in thinking I’m the starter.
Lonnie Johnson, UK football signee
Those who have followed Johnson’s on-field progress over the past few years don’t doubt the possibility that he might make some money as an NFL defensive back someday soon.
Right now, he’s just happy to be on a major-college campus.
Johnson, who will have two seasons of eligibility, was committed to Ohio State as a high school kid, but academics forced him to go the junior college route. He was then committed to Iowa State, but grades prevented that move, too.
So Johnson sat out last season and concentrated on the books. It worked. He’s enrolled in spring classes at Kentucky and is eager to return to the field as soon as possible.
UK obviously has some talented players at cornerback, most notably Derrick Baity and Chris Westry, both two-year starters who will also be juniors this season and boast the same kind of length and size as Johnson.
The new Wildcat has already befriended both players, and he won’t be backing off when they step on to the practice field in a couple months.
“I go in thinking I’m the starter,” Johnson said. “With the guys that are already here, it’s just going to be competitive. We’re not going to bring negativity into the game. I’m going to go out there and do my part, and they’re going to go out there and do their part.
“They know what I’m bringing to the table is just going to make them step their game up more.”