Brookhaven QB busy at camps

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2004

As summer schedules go, Brookhaven High quarterback Jimmy Johnshas been busy to say the least. The athletic Johns has made severaltrips to different football camps and passing clinics over the lastmonth. One trip included the meeting of his football idol Steve(Air) McNair of the Tennessee Titans last week.

“I got to meet Steve McNair, someone I’ve always admired.” saidJohns. “He taught me some things to better myself as a quarterback.And gave me some words of encouragement.”

Johns met the reigning 2003 Co-MVP of the NFL at McNair’s EliteFleet Camp on the campus of Alcorn State University in Lorman. Thecamp itself was by invitation only and showcased several of the tophigh school seniors and juniors from Mississippi, Louisiana, andTexas.

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“I and Chris Thigpen of Taylorsville were two of Mississippi’stop senior quarterbacks at the camp,” added Johns. “There were alot of other good players up their to.”

Of the near 100 players at the camp, McNair taught Johns how tobetter use his 4.7 40-yard dash speed to his advantage with aSpeed-Drop technique.

“He showed me how to run the speed-drop on my passes,” saidJohns. “He also gave me a pair of his cleats and signed them for meafterwards. When I got to the camp I had forgot to bring mine buthe had an extra pair he gave me. It was great.”

Not only did Johns get tutored by McNair, he also got some hintsand pointers from two of college football’s top quarterbacks inMissouri’s Brad Smith and University of Texas gunslinger VincentYoung. Smith is a Heisman Trophy hopeful this season while Young isa fleet-footed speedster on the Longhorns squad.

“Vincent Young and Brad Smith helped out a lot,” continuedJohns. “They talked to us and showed us some different things.”

Besides Johns learning pass techniques at McNair’s camp, he alsoparticipated in several other camps. He and his Brookhaven Highteammates played in the 7-on-7 camps at LSU and Southwest CommunityCollege.

“It was a chance for exposure for him and others,” saidBrookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey. “Mainly on Jimmy’s part,staying consistent is the key.”

Johns also took an unofficial visit to Memphis University duringhis summer break. He plans to take a visit to Auburn in the nearfuture.

“Right now, I’ve received five scholarship offers from Memphis,Auburn, Mississippi State, Iowa, and USM,” added Johns. “I don’tplan to make a decision on a commitment until after the footballseason.”

Currently, Johns confessed to leaning towards Auburn andMississippi State. He says his mother, Mrs. Patricia Butler, andhis uncle, Billy Thomas, will play a key role in helping him makehis decision.

“My mom and my Uncle Billy will help me with the decision,”continued Jimmy. “I still have a lot of other schools like LSU andWest Virginia showing a lot of interest in me too.”

Last year Johns guided the Panthers to a second round appearancein the Class 4A South State Playoffs. The Panthers lost to eventualchamp Wayne County.

“During the last two years we lost to the team that went on towin it all,” said Johns. “I expect us to go all the way thisyear.”

The Panthers open their 2004 season against Hazlehurst on August27. If Johns has his way, that will be the first step toward achampionship that he hopes ends in Jackson’s Memorial VeteransMemorial Stadium with the raising of a trophy over his head.