- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
Kamron Johnson didn’t just make an impact for Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos De Niza this season. He did it as a sophomore starter playing out of position the entire year. With senior standouts Mauriece Lee and Khadeem Stewart manning the tailback position, Padres head coach Roy Lopez had to find a way to take advantage of Johnson’s talents, so the 6-foot-0, 190-pound sophomore spent the majority of his time at wide receiver.
“They thought they needed me on the field and I was open to it,” Johnson said. “They put me at receiver and that helped me with my running back skills, catching the ball out of the backfield. But right now, I’m just happy to be a sophomore making an impact on the varsity team.”
Lopez said it was an easy call to get Johnson on the field any way he could.
“He has a chance to be a big-time recruit,” Lopez said. “He’s fast and he’s strong. But the biggest thing he has going is that he’s so competitive.”
This season, Johnson rushed 22 times for 266 yards and three touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 253 yards and three scores. Next year, Johnson should see a huge increase in his workload, as Johnson said he would “absolutely” look to compete for the starting tailback position.
“I’m more of a downfield runner,” Johnson said of his style. “I’m going to get the ball and go, get the yards we need and score the touchdown, hopefully. I can break some long runs, but mainly I just get upfield without dancing and do what I have to do with the ball.”
Johnson did not attend any school camps this past summer, but has received some light mail from Arizona, Arizona State, Nebraska and Oregon. He said the Ducks sent him a letter, which stands as the biggest recruiting statement he’s received to this point and means more to Johnson than a letter from most other schools.
"Kenny Wheaton is my godfather, so the college I grew up watching was Oregon," Johnson said. "It was great to watch him do what he did, but I'll go anywhere. I like Oregon, UCLA, USC, Cal and a lot of schools over there. Arizona State is a nice school, but I'll go anywhere. College is college. I'm just trying to get an education and hopefully play football."