February 12, 2012

Johnson will be Bryan's Focal Point

The newly-hired head coach at Bryan will give Baylor commit Chris Johnson every chance to prove he's an elite quarterback.

In a year from now, Bryan, Texas junior quarterback Chris Johnson will have the chance to play for one of the top quarterback coaches in the country, Baylor's Art Briles. In the meantime, Johnson will have to settle for a hall of famer.

In late January Ross Rogers ended his five-year retirement from the sidelines to accept the head coaching job at Bryan. Rogers, who put together a 211-87-8 record as a head coach, stepped away from the game in 2007 to pursue a career in athletic equipment sales. Last July his peers voted him into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, but Rogers realized he wasn't finished just yet.

"I convinced myself that if a job like this ever came open," Rogers said, "I'd go back into it and give it another six or seven years of hard work."

Rogers' absence from the game doesn't mean he's lost touch with the style of offenses dominating the prep football landscape.

"In the 80s and 90s we were in the shotgun when no one else was," Rogers said. "I actually called it the machine gun. We'd get to the line of scrimmage, make our read and go. We would go into scrimmages and people would ask us to slow down."

Now it's Johnson's turn to handle the "machine gun" offense. The 6-5, 195-pound dual-threat quarterback has already made a good impression on Rogers, who has been on the job for just over two weeks.

"He's a gifted athlete," said Rogers, who also saw Johnson play a few times last fall. "He comes from a good family. He seems to be a leader in the offseason. We've only thrown for three or four days since I've been here, mostly generic stuff."

Rogers has seen what the scouts see: A tall, rangy quarterback with good feet and the ability to make plays when things break down. But Rogers also has been pleasantly surprised by Johnson's accuracy and touch throwing the football.

"I coached against Drew Brees at Westlake," Rogers said. "The thing that made him successful then and now is his accuracy is unbelievable. I'm not saying Chris is as accurate as Brees, but he's already shown me a lot."

Bryan will run an offense similar to what Rogers used before he retired, a fast-paced, mostly shotgun set where the quarterback must make quick pre-snap reads. Rogers admits that puts "a lot of pressure" on his quarterback, but he said Johnson is capable of handling the responsibility.

After playing receiver and defensive back as a sophomore (and, it's worth mentioning, earning all-state honors as a return man), Johnson split time at quarterback with a senior last season while also battling an injury. That limited Johnson to just five games, and it also impacted his statistics. Johnson rushed and passed for a combined 904 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Rogers said Johnson now has the chance to see his statistics soar this fall.

"He hasn't done some things numbers-wise yet, but I really think he can be a special guy for us," he said. "Wherever I've been, our quarterback has had a lot to do with success. That's the way my teams were. [Johnson] has the chance to be the focal point of the offense."

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