His future may be on the football field, but Turlock High offensive lineman Everett Johnson owes a great deal of his fanfare on the recruiting trail to his love of basketball.
In eighth grade, the big-bodied Johnson often practiced with the Turlock High varsity boys basketball team at the request of longtime coach Doug Cornfoot. He quickly developed a kinship with Cornfoot, who has helped develop Johnson’s athleticism.
At 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, Johnson is a mountain of a man, but he’s remarkably fast on his feet. Those two traits were enough to pique the interest of the Cal coaching staff, which made Johnson the fifth Bulldog to receive a Division I offer in the last three years. He joins Colorado's Mustafa Noel-Johnson, Portland State's Danny Velasquez, Cal Poly's Dustin Grein, and current teammate Garrett Fountain, a San Diego State commit.
Johnson, No. 3 on the Front Row’s list of top-50 returning football players, committed to the Golden Bears, though interest continues to pour in from other Pac-12 and Big 12 programs.
“That’s what separated me,” he said of his footwork and conditioning. “That’s what Cal saw in me at one of their camps. It was the first drill, an agility drill. I went all out and did amazing. My dad said he saw some recruiters pointing at me.”
Johnson draws a correlation between hoops and his work in the trenches. He believes the continuous, up-tempo pace of basketball has helped with his stamina on the gridiron. It also helps to have hands the size of baseball mitts, a size 16 shoe, and an 81-inch wingspan.
“Coach Cornfoot is a great coach. He has me doing drills on my footwork and conditioning, and all of that has carried into football,” Johnson said. “It helps keep me going, play after play. He has me doing ladders and jump rope, and that helps keep my feet moving. Most of the stuff Coach Cornfoot has me doing for basketball is what (football coach James Peterson) has us doing during the summer and spring workouts.”
The hope is that all of that work translates into another conference title. The Bulldogs move out of the Central California Conference, where they were the two-time defending champion, and will compete in the newly formed Central California Athletic Alliance, along with rival Pitman, and Gregori, Downey, Enochs and Modesto of Modesto City Schools.
Johnson has just one mission: Once his hand hits the dirt — dominate whoever gets in his way.
“It’s all about having the will to do it. You can’t force a lineman to be a lineman,” he said. “You have to want to put your hand in the dirt and dominate. You have to want to put the lineman on his back, and then put the linebacker on his back, and maybe the safety, too. That’s the mindset you have to have.”
Johnson committed to Cal shortly after receiving the offer. He fell in love with the proximity of the school and the down-the-road opportunities his degree will create.
When his father, Kirk Johnson, was a quarterback at Utah State in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he often missed home. Leaving the locker room after games was especially difficult, wading through players and their families.
Everett Johnson wants his family close.
“He’d leave the locker room and see teammates hugging friends and family,” Johnson said of his father’s collegiate experience. “He had no family out there, and that’s a big thing for me. I want to come out of the locker room and see my mom and dad.”
July 16-Aug. 13: 50. Sean McGovern, DB/WR, Ripon Chr.; 49. Bryan Millan, WR/DB/K, Hilmar; 48. Logan Weatherby, RB/LB, Calaveras; 47. Isaac Schinnman, RB/LB, Modesto Chr.; 46. JoJo Espinoza, WR/S, East Union; 45. Ryan Kraft, QB, Bret Harte; 44. Xavier Rodriguez, QB, Davis; 43. Joao Silveira, LB, Hilmar; 42. Landon Wright, DL, Modesto Chr.; 41. Xavier Stewart, WR, Merced; 40. Charles Jackson, RB, Atwater; 39. Hayden Sauser, QB, Modesto Chr.; 38. D. Durossette, QB, Central Cath.; 37. Trey Longstreth, WR/DB, Gregori; 36. Justin Traina, DB, Central Catholic; 35. Nash Satnat, LB, Escalon; 34. Payton Bass, RB, Pitman; 33. Justin Rentfro, RB/DE, Hilmar; 32. Dhameer Warren, QB/DB, Merced; 31. Jacob Bettencourt, QB, Orestimba; 30. Trey Paster, DB, Buhach Colony; 29. Marquise Higgins, LB/WR, East Union; 28. Omar Ortega, OL, Patterson; 27. Antonio Lopez, RB, Los Banos; 26. Jonah Kosakiewicz, QB, Turlock; 25. Kyle Jackson, QB, Central Cath.; 24. Anderson Grover, WR, Downey; 23. Jake Dirkse, LB, Turlock; 22. Trabron Russell, RB, Manteca; 21. Garrett Fountain, DE, Turlock; 20. Kaden Christensen, RB, Escalon; 19. Jorge Cedano, WR, Manteca; 18. Logan Foumai, OL, Patterson; 17. Zaire Eugene, RB, Modesto; 16. Isaac Sharp, RB, Hilmar; 15. Ryan Daggett, QB, Ripon; 14. Jacob DeJesus, WR, Manteca; 13. C.J. Castleman, RB, Sonora; 12. Chris Mendoza, OL, Central Cath.; 11. Javyn Drobnick, RB, Big Valley Chr.; 10. Tyler Vargas, WR, Orestimba; 9. Eric Soares, OL, Central Cath.; 8. Jake Gookin, QB, Sonora; 7. Marcello Longstreth, ATH, Gregori; 6. Xavier Carlton, DE, Modesto Chr.; 5. D'Angelo Bellamy, RB/LB, Central Catholic; 4. Bryce Peterson, WR/DB, Downey
Today: No. 3 Everett Johnson, OL, Turlock.
This week: 5-1.