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Thursday, February 21, 2013
Q&A: Coach of 2014 ATH Kevin Shorter

By Brandon Chatmon

One of the Sooners' earliest offers for the Class of 2014 was Newton, Texas, athlete Kevin Shorter. The 6-foot, 188-pound prospect holds offers from several schools, including OU, Texas A&M, Georgia and others. W.T. Johnston, Shorter's coach at Newton, spoke of what makes Shorter special, what position he mighy play in college, and where the Sooners might stand.

SoonerNation: What separates Shorter from some of the other players in the area?

W.T. Johnston: He's a very good competitor. He has a lot of confidence in himself and he's a mature kid. He's a fast kid, and he runs as fast with his pads on as he can with them off; that separates him from a lot of kids right there.

SN: Do you remember the first time you realized he was different?

Johnston: The first time, I saw him in eighth grade. He was different than everybody on the field, he's just a different player. We knew then he was going to be special. He's one of the only freshman to play here as a freshman. Sometimes the problem is we can't do enough with him. We can throw him the ball, we can let him run it, we can play him in the secondary, he can play a lot of places on defense. We have to watch trying to do too much with him, that's going to be the challenge for us this year.

SN: What do you feel will be his best position long-term?

Johnston: He's a running back. I told the coach from Oklahoma, Coach [Cale] Gundy, he's DeMarco Murray. That's who he reminds me of, he's long like that and he only weighs 190 right now because he plays basketball, runs track and he doesn't have time to lift weights. I think he's a kid that will weight 215 in about a year. The thing about him, like Murray, you can put him in the slot and somebody has to cover him and be a good cover guy. He's got a lot of speed but he's a very powerful runner.

SN: So it's been Coach Gundy checking in on him for OU?

Johnston: It was Coach Patton but he left; he was in contact with him since last year. Then Coach Gundy called the other day and offered.

SN: So OU likes him as a running back?

Johnston: That's what they told me. OU likes him because he can do so many things. He can play running back, he can catch the ball and he can play in the secondary for anyone. He has real long arms, that's one thing about him.

SN: When we first started talking you mentioned his competitiveness. Where does he rank among the players you've coached?

Johnston: We had a quarterback/defensive back that signed with Arkansas the other day (D.J. Dean), those two are probably the two best competitors. I've done this for 25 years. It's every day at practice, they go hard, you never have to get on them about going hard. We go "live" in practice and they get after it.

SN: What's he need to work on for the next level?

Johnston: His size. I don't think that will be a problem for him. He's a strong kid, he's just long right now and he looks thin because he's long. At that level, he just needs to get more weight on him to take the pounding. He's a durable kid, I've never seen him get hurt.

SN: Do you know what position he would like to play?

Johnston: I think he'd like to play running back. To him playing running back and splitting out at wideout is all the same. And that's what Oklahoma does with its running backs.

SN: What's the toughest thing he has overcome during his career?

Johnston: He had to do a lot of growing up. He's living in a different setting now, he's living with his cousin [Dean] who signed with Arkansas, it's helped him a lot. He got behind on his grades as a ninth-grader, now he's fine. He started realizing last year what was going to happen and he's doing really good with his grades now.

SN: Will his cousin signing with Arkansas have an impact?

Johnston: He's a pretty mature, individual kid. He won't have to have somebody with him to make him happy. He might like to play with him but I don't think it really matters to him. It won't be a determining factor. I asked him about it and he said "I don't care where DJ goes."

SN: Do you feel like the Sooners have a chance to be one of the schools he has serious interest in?

Johnston: I do. I think he likes Arkansas, Baylor and Oklahoma right now. Arkansas is going to run the ball a lot, they've talked to him about that and he likes that. Oklahoma, he likes what they do because he'd get to run it and catch it.