Johnson's choice of college not certain
Canfield High's Angelo Babbaro says he's going to Villanova.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mooney senior Derrell Johnson didn't get to play in his final high school football game. He's still not sure where he'll play his first college football game.
"It's a little chaotic right now," said Johnson. "I've been on the phone scheduling visits, watching to see if guys have signed, talking to coaches.
"I still haven't decided what I'm going to do."
Johnson (6-3, 205) was an all-Ohio quarterback at Mooney this season but likely projects as a wide receiver at the next level, although he could also play defensive back.
He's drawn interest from several top schools, including Ohio State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Florida and Miami (Florida).
"Right now, he's laying out all of his options," said Mooney coach P.J. Fecko. "He wanted to make sure everything was in order first."
Johnson, who played his first three seasons at Campbell, tore three ligaments in his ankle in the state semifinals and watched from the sidelines as the Cardinals fell to Coldwater 33-9 in the Division IV state final. He's spent the past two months rehabbing two things: his ankle and his report card.
He's doing well with both.
"At Campbell, during my early years as a freshman and a sophomore, I was kind of doing my own thing," said Johnson. "I didn't really have too much guidance [at home] and I don't think I understood the importance of schoolwork.
"I wasn't thinking about college ball. I didn't know if I was good enough to play in college."
Johnson's biological father died when he 3 and his biological mother wasn't around much growing up. He was adopted by the Koulianos family while he was still at Campbell, who helped give him the guidance and structure he needed, he said.
"Ever since that happened, it's been a great ride," said Johnson. "I'm thankful every day that I found them."
Of course, it wasn't all smooth sailing. Johnson's transfer wasn't popular with everyone in the area and his decision was discussed on the Internet, in the papers, on TV, on the radio -- everywhere.
"Football is a big thing in this part of Ohio," he said. "Everyone has their opinions and not everyone knows exactly what they're talking about.
"It's interesting at times and it's sometimes overwhelming. But I was fortunate enough to play for Cardinal Mooney this year and play in some big games and that's all you can ask for."
Johnson isn't sure when he'll pick a college and he doesn't expect to know by Wednesday's National Signing Day. One thing he does know: he can play at the next level.
"I think I produced enough to show college officials that I can play," he said. "Going to Cardinal Mooney definitely proved that."
His only regret is his final game. How often does he think about it?
"Every day," he said. "Everytime I see someone who brings up the game or read about [Ohio State recruit and Coldwater linebacker] Ross Homan. It was a pleasure to be a part of a team that got to that game, but standing on the sidelines is not what I wanted to do."
Other recruiting news
Johnson isn't the only Mooney player getting interest from college recruiters. Senior defensive back Desmond Marrow verbally committed to Miami (Ohio) before the season, although he's also considering Toledo.
"It's still up in the air," Marrow said Sunday night. "When I committed this summer, I only had four offers and I didn't know what else I would get."
Marrow said he's gotten advice from everyone imaginable. He's ready for the process to be over.
"I can't wait until Wednesday," he said.
Mooney running back Nate Burney, a first team all-Ohioan, has gotten interest from Ashland and Eastern Michigan and said he's planning a visit to Duquesne.
Elsewhere, Canfield senior Angelo Babbaro chose Villanova over Youngstown State on Sunday. Both are Division I-AA schools.
"It was a chance to go away from home to play and I'll probably get to play earlier," Babbaro said. "Plus, it's a great academic school. It's close to an Ivy League education."
How long did he think about it?
"For the past two weeks, I haven't thought about anything else," he said. "I had no idea what to do. But going away to Philadelphia felt like the right decision."