PORTSMOUTH – Thursday afternoon, Portsmouth senior Stefan Johnson made his dreams come true: signing his letter of intent with Wilmington College, officially enrolling him to play collegiate football beginning this fall for the Quakers.
“It’s a dream come true, to be able to play at the college level,” said Johnson at his signing ceremony in the Portsmouth High School library. “They were one of the first ones to come and recruit me for football. I really like their campus, it’s like a small town so not many people will be around. The coaches treat me with me respect and I treat them the same way. It feels like it’s a second family.”
During Johnson’s senior season, he helped lift the Trojans to a playoff win in head coach Bruce Kalb’s first season, their first since 2007.
“At first, it was unexpected. But we knew throughout the season that we could make the playoffs. So we worked hard on the field, and all that hard worked paid off and we just so happened to make it.”
As a senior during his first season as the head man, Johnson was one of the leaders in the locker room that Kalb relied heavily on to help underclassman trust in what he was trying to build for the Trojans.
“Stef was a great leader for us, on and off the field this year,” said Kalb. “He gave it everything he had every play, Wilmington’s very fortunate to get him.”
During the recruiting process, Kalb wanted to make sure that wherever Johnson ended up, it was the right fit for him and his family.
“He was a little back and forth whenever I first took the job on if he wanted to play in college,” said Kalb. “But eventually he came to me and told me he wanted to play, so I told him to go play. We looked at different places, but he found a great place in Wilmington, and I think it’s going to be great.”
Johnson joins fellow Scioto Countian in Valley’s Tanner Spradlin as county representatives who will enroll as freshman at Wilmington to play college football.
“I like that because there will be people that I kind of know there,” said Johnson. “It’ll be cool because there will be some competition between us for a starting spot or a spot on the field.”
When Johnson graduates in May and enrolls at Wilmington this fall, he plans on majoring in athletic training. The thing he’ll miss most following graduation is the memories made with teammates and friends that helped lead him to where he is today.
“My teammates, and all of the friends that I made is what will be lasting for me,” said Johnson. “Playing pee-wee at Spartan Stadium, playing with those guys all the way up to high school, it’s definitely going to be missed.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT