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Pasco Pirates star Josh Johnson picks football over baseball

With Pasco coach Tom McHugh watching, Nicki Craig and her son, Josh Johnson, sign his letter of intent to attend Purdue. Johnson said a pro baseball contract “would have to be in the millions,” to give up football.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

With Pasco coach Tom McHugh watching, Nicki Craig and her son, Josh Johnson, sign his letter of intent to attend Purdue. Johnson said a pro baseball contract “would have to be in the millions,” to give up football.

DADE CITY — Despite the signature he put on a national letter of intent to Purdue at 11:02 a.m. Wednesday, Pasco senior Josh Johnson's boundless baseball potential has left some wondering if he'll set foot on the Big Ten campus later this year.

Wonder no more, Johnson said. The Pirates' three-sport star is sticking with football.

A pro baseball contract "would have to be in the millions," said Johnson, who signed six minutes before Pirates offensive lineman Mylon Brown (Vanderbilt).

"I love football more than I love baseball," said Johnson, who also plays basketball. "I love baseball, too, but there are so many phases you have to go through for baseball. When it comes down to you've got to play football or baseball, I'm going to play football regardless."

Johnson, flanked by six family members when he signed in principal Pat Reedy's office, hit .325 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs as a centerfielder last spring for the 26-7 Pirates. Last football season, he had 32 catches for 466 yards, ran for 204, averaged 25.3 yards on six kick returns and earned first-team Class 3A all-state honors.

He said he projects as a nickel back or slot receiver.

eager to move back: Unlike most Florida players, Springstead star Ben Noury won't need time getting acclimated to the Northeast's frigid falls when he plays at Brown.

To the contrary, he relishes the thought. Noury, who played all over the field, was born in North Conway, N.H., and lived in the state until sixth grade before moving to Vermont. A Florida resident since his freshman year, he projects as a cornerback for the Ivy League program in Rhode Island.

"It's an opportunity of a lifetime. You can't pass it up," said Noury, who ranks fifth (4.23 weighted grade point average) among a class of 297. "Even if you get recruited by one of these big-name schools, if you go to Brown, you're going to get an education that can't be beat."

in his blood: Perhaps none of USF's signees has stronger familial ties to it than Wesley Chapel two-way lineman Kamran Joyer.

Projected as a center, Joyer, who signed at noon, has five uncles who attended USF.

"There's a personal connection there, and we're real happy he chose USF," mom Kirsten said.

Joyer (6 feet 3, 305 pounds) will major in education, which should surprise exactly no one familiar with his upbringing.

His mom is an assistant principal at Weightman Middle School, next door to Wesley Chapel. His maternal grandmother, LaVona Spencer, was an ethnic studies instructor for 32 years at Wichita State.

One of his dad's brothers, Jim Joyer, is an assistant principal at Boca Ciega High. (In addition, Pasco County superintendent Heather Fiorentino attended the signing.)

still good: Brown might have been the most unlikely of area signees considering he didn't play after breaking his right femur in the second game of the season.

"(Vanderbilt) believed in me," Brown said. "I think what helped is they came to the first game of the season (against Land O'Lakes) … and then, I guess, that solidified everything."

Solo signing: Central two-way lineman Kevin Grier, who signed with Bethune-Cookman, was the only Hernando County player to formally sign. Noury didn't sign because Ivy League schools don't offer athletic scholarships but said he should receive his admissions certificate in April.

More from signing day

The bay area had so many good stories come out of signing day that we couldn't get them all in print. Track the day's best story lines and browse our photo gallery at highschool. tampabay.com.

Pasco Pirates star Josh Johnson picks football over baseball 02/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 10:25pm]
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