2012 Class: Richlands’ Two FBS Prospects

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Junior running back/linebacker Josh Hess are two of Richlands’ (VA) top players this season. Each prospect has been verbally offered by an FBS program with the 6-2, 209-pound Johnson boasting an in-state ACC offer.

“Devon has been offered by UVa as soon as he qualifies academically,” Blue Tornado head coach Greg Mance said. “When Coach [Scott] Wachenheim came here and saw film on him, he said, ‘That’s a Division 1 linebacker.'”

Johnson transferred into Richlands before the start of his sophomore year. He excelled in his first year, earning first-team all-district and first-team all-Southwest Virginia honors for his play at running back, where he averaged over seven yards per carry. Defensively, Johnson showed very well at inside linebacker (in Richlands’ 3-4 scheme), where he got more and more playing time as last season went on.

“He’s a special player. He’ll flat out knock your helmet off,” Mance said. “He had three or four bone-crushing hits against Cave Spring’s quarterback in [the 2009 Region IV, Division 3 championship game]. The kid can fly. He’s explosive. He can cover backs out of the backfield. He’s an aggressive football player. He’s an explosive linebacker. When he hits you, you go down. I think he’s a college linebacker, but with the way he is running the ball now, in spurts he looks like a college tailback.”

Because of injuries, Johnson has not seen as much time on defense this season. He has continued to produce on offense, tallying 683 yards through seven games. Johnson, who is averaging eight yards per carry, has endured a dislocated thumb and a high-ankle sprain but has still helped his team to an undefeated season thus far.

Coach Mance has high hopes for the standout prospect’s recruitment.

“He’s going to be at all of the big camps next summer. I really look for him to have 30 offers by the time its all said and done,” Mance said.

Johnson, who has attended games at Marshall, Virginia and Virginia Tech this fall, may be favoring one school at this point in his recruitment. Coach Mance isn’t sure when a commitment will come, though.

“He really has been impressed with UVa,” Mance said. “They’ve done everything first-class. They’ve