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August 4, 2005UteZone.com got on the phone with Utah signal caller Brian Johnson and talked with him about the recruiting process, the difference between Utah and Texas, and advice for Texas athletes being recruited by Utah.
The recruiting process seems like it should be tedious: Hundreds of letters from colleges, numerous phone calls from staff members and recruiting services, and visits from college coaches. So, what did Johnson think when he first heard from Utah? "I was kind (of) skeptical at first, but once I came on my recruiting trip, I knew that this was the place to be. It (his recruiting trip to Utah) was fun. When you're from Texas and you think of Utah, you're not really open-minded to the situation. But once you go out there and you experience everything that they have to offer, it's not bad at all."
Hailing from the Houston area, Johnson had a few things to become accustomed to once he arrived in Utah, not the least of which being the elevation and the weather. Another obstacle to overcome was the perceived cultural difference, with the predominant religion in Utah being the strict Mormon faith.
"I think the Mormon religion was a big factor, that's what you think coming into the situation, but once you get there you realize it's not bad at all. It's just like any other place. The biggest thing is the weather, getting adjusted to the wintertime. In Texas, you've got 100 degrees outside plus the humidity. You go up to the high elevation, you tough it out at first, but once you get used to it, it becomes a big advantage. I actually prefer the higher elevation, when a team comes up to play they're out of breath by the end of the first quarter. So, it's an added advantage."
Johnson spent all but his senior year in high school as a wide receiver, switching to quarterback after Drew Tate (2004 first team All-Big Ten quarterback) graduated and moved on to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Making the transition from high school receiver to college quarterback might seem daunting, but Johnson took it in stride.
"(The biggest difference was) the terminology and the speed of the actual game, I think those were the two biggest things making the jump from high school to college football."
He still keeps in touch with players from his days in Baytown. One in particular is James Cleveland, whom Johnson calls a "big time wide receiver."
"We're going to try and get him in here on a recruiting trip, show him what Salt Lake has to offer."
Now that he has the recruiting and transition process behind him, Johnson is able to look back and offer advice to any Texan that would follow him to Utah.
"Don't be skeptical. You have to be open-minded. I know it seems like a far away place and everyone talks about the Mormon religion, but you have to come out here and see it for yourself. So don't knock it until you try it. You have to come out here and see it for yourself."
Q&A session with Brian Johnson
Mississippi State NEWS