The Muskegon Big Reds headed into the season looking to defend their 2004 state title, but those plans took a big hit when they lost their starting quarterback, Jason Ruud, and their star player, Ronald Johnson, in the course of one month. Johnson was on his way to what would have surely been a memorable season. In the opening game the 6-1, 185-pounder scored on a 60-yard punt return, a 36-yard reception, and an 85-yard kick return. Unfortunately, a few weeks later his junior campaign ended when a false-step in practice resulted in a torn ACL and a torn LCL.
The coveted junior prospect underwent successful surgery at the end of September and is well on the road to recovery. "It's real good," Johnson said of his knee. "I'm walking on it and I'm starting to lift weights now, so it's doing a lot better. They said that it would take six to eight months for before I got back to planting and running, but I'd say it will be a little bit after track season. I won't be able to be able to get out and go to camps like I usually do though."
Johnson's absence from the football field this year hasn't hindered the interest from some of the top programs in the country. A number of them came by his school this fall and even more have extended offers. "I have quite a few of them," Johnson said of the number of scholarships that have been extended. "Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee… there are more, but I really can't think of them all right now."
The Fighting Irish have been amongst the programs recruiting Johnson the hardest, and an early season trip to South Bend proved to be very memorable. That said, the visit was not enough to move them to the top of this list. As a matter of fact, Johnson declined to name a favorite at all. "Notre Dame has a real good atmosphere," he said. "The way they treat you and the education they have is pretty good, but they're not at the top. Right now I don't really know who is. I've got a top five. I'm thinking about Texas, Miami, Tennessee, Michigan, and Ohio State."
When the last two teams on that list squared off this past weekend, Johnson was in the house to take in the game. Despite the outcome, he came away very impressed. "The game was exciting," he said. "[Michigan] should have come out on top, but it doesn't work out your way all of the time. But it was a real good game."
Johnson didn't get an opportunity to speak with his former Big Red teammate Terrance Taylor while he was in Ann Arbor, but they have kept in touch throughout the year. Things haven't gone quite like Taylor had planned, but he has remained positive. "He's been telling me he hasn't been getting much playing time," Johnson said. "He's not mad about it or anything, but he is really looking forward to next year because he knows he is going to be the man."
When Johnson reaches his freshman year in college, he hopes to see more time than Taylor has. When he finally sits down to make his choice, the opportunity to play right away will be a significant factor. "I'll be looking at the education they'll offer me and if I'm going to play a lot," Johnson said. "I play DB and receiver, but it really doesn't matter to me which one I play in college as long as I play. I like to give out the hits, but it really doesn't matter to me."
As for when his decision might come, Johnson indicated that it won't be coming anytime soon. "I'm thinking I'm going to do it my senior year," he said. "Probably in February."