January 18, 2008

Johnson elects to stay home, play at ASU

Mesa (Ariz.) senior Keelan Johnson switched his verbal commitment from Nebraska to Arizona State on Friday, citing his desire to remain close to home. ASUDevils.com spoke with Johnson immediately following the decision.

The 6-foot, 195 pound athlete pledged the Cornhuskers last summer, before he had a scholarship offer from the Sun Devils. When Nebraska fired then-coach Bill Callahan in late November, Johnson decided to re-visit the recruiting process and take an official visit to Arizona State.

Though he remained a soft-commit to Nebraska following that visit, he increasingly saw ASU as a more likely destination. Several days before he switched the commitment to ASU, Johnson told us that he was 90 percent sure he would likely sign with the Sun Devils.

"In the end it just came down to wanting to stay home," Johnson said. "It was a tough decision. I thought Nebraska and ASU were both really good (options) and I was lucky to be able to have both want me. I think coach Pelini is going to do a great job at Nebraska and get them back to where they have been in the past.

"ASU is doing really well under coach Erickson and I think that will continue. I really liked my visit there and I have a lot of friends and family here. They were both really good. The closer I get to being out of high school the more I'm feeling like I'd rather stay close to home. That's what I've been thinking about."

Johnson, the No. 19 prospect in Arizona's 2008 class by Rivals.com, rushed for 761 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 92 carries as a senior. He also had 19 receptions and two additional touchdowns. Defensively he had 59 tackles, three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

"I think they are going to start me at receiver but I could also play running back," Johnson said of the coaches' plans for him at ASU. "I'm not sure where I will wind up, but I'm willing to do whatever they think will help me be the best player."

Johnson and his Mesa basketball squad will play Pinnacle and ASU 2008 basketball signee Taylor Rohde in the MLK Classic at Wells Fargo Arena Monday at 4:45 p.m.

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