6:00: Morning News

Johnson Adds Versatility

It’s early in the recruiting season for Marshall’s 2012 class, but the Thundering Herd have already picked up a versatile athlete in Richlands (VA) linebacker Devon Johnson.

Johnson, originally born in West Virginia, has spent the last couple of years dominating the high school circuit as a linebacker and running back for the Blue Tornado and his coach, Greg Mance, says that versatility will translate to the next level.

“He can run; tackle; really plan on either side of the ball,” Mance says. “He has great hands and he’s a ferocious tackler.”

Johnson’s aggressiveness and talent caught the eyes of several other Division 1 schools, including Virginia, Notre Dame, Miami and Tennessee.

But Marshall, as was the case with their other commits for the 2012 class, swooped in early and got the 6-foot-2, 220 pound athlete before other schools could even begin recruiting him.

“Devon is very comfortable with coach [Phil] Ratliff,” said Mance. “Plus he loved coach [Doc] Holliday and he has relatives in Charleston.”

Ratliff has been on a tear on Marshall’s recruiting trail, with other Herd commits Tyler Combs and Adam Wing giving credit to the great job Ratliff has done during the recruiting process.

The relationship between Mance and Ratliff goes back six years, dating to Ratliff’s time at James Madison University. The two have developed a close friendship and speak often.

“I met Phil back in 2005 when we had a track meet in Harrisonburg and he always calls or stops by when he’s around.”

Mance’s relationship with Ratliff transferred over to Johnson, who Mance said just felt comfortable around the Marshall coach.

Now that he’s given his verbal commitment to the Herd, Mance says Marshall will have a playmaker on the field no matter where they put him.

“Devon just has a will to win. When the chips are down, he’s at his best.”





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