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Former Largo star gets set to hit stage for Iowa St.

Former Largo QB Leonard Johnson is excited about lining up on the other side of the ball for Iowa State. “The coaches all say they really like my footwork as a defensive back,” he says.

TED McLAREN | Times

Former Largo QB Leonard Johnson is excited about lining up on the other side of the ball for Iowa State. “The coaches all say they really like my footwork as a defensive back,” he says.

On Aug. 30, a fired-up Leonard Johnson will run out of the tunnel at Iowa State's Jack Trice Stadium and play in the first game of his college career.

The Cyclones host South Dakota State in the season opener.

"I can't wait," Johnson said.

The former Largo star always imagined playing in this type of big-game atmosphere.

Now he'll finally get that chance — as a possible starter.

Johnson said he was moved up to the first-team defense as a defensive back after Chris Singleton went down with a hamstring injury. Johnson also will return punts and kicks.

"I'm trying to be humble and just show what I can do," Johnson said. "The coaches have liked what they've seen so far."

Last season, Johnson used his improvisational skills as a quarterback to help lead the Packers to their first undefeated regular season and first appearance in the state semifinals.

He also played defensive back, where he was recruited the most by colleges. After receiving tons of offers, including Ole Miss, USF and West Virginia, Johnson decided on Iowa State.

Since July, Johnson has been in Ames, Iowa, training for the season. The Cyclones initially had him as a slot receiver. But Johnson stood out more on the other side of the ball.

"The coaches all say they really like my footwork as a defensive back," Johnson said.

Though he no longer plays for the Packers, Johnson said he still keeps up with the program.

"I think Largo still is going to do well this season," Johnson said. "They have lost a lot of guys, but they have some good ones coming back."

Keswick's Sanson lands starting job

After a neck-and-neck battle with fellow senior Isaac Huntley through spring drills for the starting quarterback job at Keswick Christian, Doug Sanson will start under center for the Crusaders this fall, according to coach Rick Sanson.

"(The coaches) met after the spring game," Rick Sanson said. "Everybody had input. We weighed the pros and the cons and evaluated all sides. We gave it to Doug … just the mental aspect of understanding the offense. We felt that he just had a real good grasp of it."

Doug, who is Rick's son, has been hanging around the Keswick sideline for all of his father's 11 seasons as head coach.

"Ever since I was little I was out here during practice, running around," said Doug Sanson, who will also start at safety. "I've grown up around the game, so I understand it a lot. … I'm just kind of that coach on the field."

Huntley will move to wide receiver and becomes one of the Crusaders' primary pass catchers.

"Huntley turned around and worked real hard at receiver," Rick Sanson said. "He's had a great attitude about it. He's got the most experience there."

Crusaders linebackers just got tougher

Keswick Christian's linebacking corps received a huge boost recently with the addition of senior Jakobi Wheeler. Wheeler transferred from St. Petersburg Catholic and will start at middle linebacker for the Crusaders.

"He just made the transfer official a couple of weeks ago," Rick Sanson said.

With Wheeler, Sanson expects the linebackers to be one of the best units on the team.

"Jakobi will step into the spot that Jared Boddie played," he said. Boddie will play this season for Taylor University in Indiana. "Jakobi will also play some running back, which he played at St. Petersburg Catholic."

Wheeler camped over the summer at the University of Miami and USF, and Sanson thinks he has Division-I potential. Because of his size, schools are looking at him primarily as an offensive player.

"One of the coaches (at a camp) told Jakobi he's just not tall enough (to play linebacker)," Sanson said. "Well, somebody's going to get a good football player. … He's a big-time player."

On the Web

For daily updates on athletes and teams from Pinellas County, visit blogs.tampabay.com/preps.

Former Largo star gets set to hit stage for Iowa St. 08/15/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2008 3:49pm]

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