Getting recruited out of the Northwest isn’t an easy thing. You have to prove yourself on and off the field and be pro active in the process.
If we are talking top head coaches and the elite collegiate athletes which they have produced, one of the first names that comes to mind is Don Johnson Jr. of Evergreen High School (Vancouver WA).
Coaches typically put in countless hours in general, getting their kids and teams ready for the season. In the time that I have been working in the HS football world I have never seen a man help more kids then Don Johnson. The time and energy spent goes way beyond football, literally saving kids lives and helping to get them an opportunity at the next level.
This past season Johnson helped get out 4 D1 kids on full scholarship (Justice Murphy- Wyoming, Jerrin Williams/Kobey Eaton- Montana, Billy Nelson-Weber St ) from a team that went (2-7) , in what he will tell you was a humbling experience.
If people knew the personal hours spent on the phone, outside of his office, advocating for ALL kids worthy of a shot at the next level they would be astonished.
A few years back Johnson took over and helped a notoriously bad Milwaukie, Oregon program go (8-3) and finish in the top 10 for the first time in decades. Current Eastern Washington star WR Kendrick Bourne came through MHS and says, “Without coach I’m not where I am today.. Period.”
He continued, “He made sure I did right off the field, which translated on it and for that I am a better man and athlete.”
As most know DJ comes from a football background out of Riverside, California. His dad (Don Johnson Sr.) has been coaching with the San Diego Chargers for the last eight years, while Don Jr. himself was a collegiate All American.
Two individuals currently getting ready for the NFL Draft , Sadale Foster (Texas Tech) and Zaire Anderson (Nebraska) , credit Johnson with being a primary reason why they are where they are today. Speaking on DJ Foster says, “Coach has been a mentor to me and one of the most influential people in my life”. Adding, “He beat up the phones for me early in the process and helped me get an opportunity at the highest level.”
In a similar situation Zaire made the move from a rough part of Philadelphia to attend Riverside JC in Cali as he says, “Coach Johnson is a mentor but more importantly a good friend to me to this day.. I am able to talk with him about all aspects of life and know he will give me an honest answer whether I want to hear it or not.”
Year in and year out Johnson helps his kids get recruited. He doesn’t have a magic wand or something extra ordinary. What he does have is the knowledge, connections, and mindset to help athletes who could potentially be left without an opportunity.
Look for Evergreen to be one of the most improved teams in Washington next season. We will bring you updates on the Plainsmen as the year continues.