- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
After leading his high school team to a state title last season, quarterback Johnny Stanton (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita) became a well-known commodity in California. But when college programs were hesitant to offer the 6-foot-2, 221-pound athlete as a quarterback, Stanton took to the road this spring and summer to prove himself.
Stanton hit camps at Nebraska, Wisconsin and Oregon and impressed enough at all three locations to earn immediate offers from each school.
"The tour I took was to show people I could throw better than they might have thought I could," Stanton said. "A lot of people were considering me as an athlete and I was thankful for the schools that saw me as a quarterback. I got to throw for the coaches and I'm thankful the offers came in. I guess it all worked out."
It certainly worked out for one program, as the Nebraska coaching staff received a phone call from Stanton on Monday morning, and the quarterback pulled the trigger on a commitment.
"I made my decision once I felt like I was sure," said Stanton, who chose Nebraska over his other finalists: Wisconsin and Oregon. "I wanted to do it sooner rather than later and did it once I could see myself at Nebraska more than the other schools.
"The fit there works really well - -with the program, the offense and the school overall. It's a great spot to be in right now."
Stanton said the fact that he was able to visit Nebraska twice, along with his family, was important, as he would not have committed to any school without seeing it in person. Once his family was sold on the Cornhuskers, it helped Stanton make was he called a "tough decision."
A dual-threat quarterback, Stanton said he looks forward to learning from Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, a fellow Southern Californian.
"Having him as a mentor will help me out a lot," Stanton said. "I can see how he changed into the system and adapted into the school."
Stanton likely would have fit well into the offenses of all three of his finalists, but he said he looks forward to realizing how the Nebraska system will fit around him.
"One of the things there is they work to the quarterback's strengths," Stanton said. "That's very valuable and it will be cool to see what my strengths are and how well they can use me. It's a collaborative effort with what I can do and what they see me as. So next year I'll be able to find out how I fit."
Stanton was able to speak with just about the entire coaching staff on Monday and he could sense their excitement halfway across the country.
"Once I told Coach [Bo] Pelini, he was very excited," Stanton said. "I could tell from the way he was talking, it was the family atmosphere that I am going to be a part of there."
As a junior, Stanton threw for 2,439 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 1,428 yards and 21 scores in leading Santa Margarita to a 13-2 record and a state championship.