The ‘It’ Factor: Johnny Stanton N-Sider Q&A
Randy York’s N-Sider
Tim Beck was standing in his office Wednesday, pausing to check on nationally televised college football recruiting coverage when we asked Nebraska’s offensive coordinator for a quick quote on Johnny Stanton, the prized dual-threat quarterback that Nebraska recruited from Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic High School.
“The thing that caught my eye the most when watching him on film was the ‘It’ Factor he had about him,” said Beck, who also serves as Nebraska's quarterbacks coach. “Tommy finds ways to make plays with his feet and his arm, and he never gives up on any play. He just finds ways to move the football, and there’s something to be said for that. There are a lot of guys who are very talented but everything has to be right for them. Johnny just finds a way to win and overcome adversity, and that’s what I saw on film. Once I got the chance to meet him, he displayed all of that even more. He’ll be a great fit for our program because he’s a hard-working guy, and he’s going to do everything he has to do to put himself in position to have success here.”
Since the “It” Factor is the hallmark of so many successful athletes, The N-Sider wanted to dig deeper into Stanton’s background and get inside his brain, so we could understand how an ultra-confident quarterback could lead a team to the nation’s No. 1 prep ranking before an ACL injury dashed a season and crashed his dream. In asking all kinds of questions, we learned that Stanton is as complete in an interview as he is on the field. In the thoroughness of his answers, you understand how Stanton draws people to him, why he’s contemplating pre-med and how positive he is.
Read this N-Sider Q&A recruiting special, and you’ll discover what drew Stanton to Lincoln, why he preferred Beck’s and Nebraska’s approach over Oregon and Wisconsin – his other two finalists, why his dad is his role model, when he experienced his own classic example of toughness, plus his most embarrassing moment, his immediate goal and why he wants to meet Tommie Frazier in person.
We invite all Husker fans to get to know one of the newest members of the Husker family.
Q: How did you picture Nebraska in your mind before you visited?
A: I pictured it as a state of continuous farmland. I thought Lincoln would be a small college town, and I was impressed with the size of the city. I didn't picture it as purely cornfields like a lot of people. My favorite description of Lincoln is that it is as big as you want it to be, or as small as you want it to be.
Q: Once you saw Nebraska, how did your view change?
A: I was impressed with the size of the city but I think Omaha was the biggest surprise for me. I didn't know there was a major urban setting in the state.
Q: How excited were you to tell your friends and family about your choice?
A: I was very excited. They got on me for finding out from the media before me, but that was just because it had gotten out so fast that I didn't have one minute to call anyone about the decision before the calls came from the reporters.
Q: What was the biggest reason you became a Husker and why?
A: My comfort level at the school. More than any other school, Nebraska had the atmosphere that made me feel most at home.
Q: What other schools did you visit or strongly consider?
A: I took visits to Wisconsin, Oregon, Utah, Oregon State and Washington. My final three choices were Nebraska, Oregon and Wisconsin.
Q: Have you decided on what your major might be?
A: Not sure on my major yet, but I want to take the pre-med path and the prerequisites to possibly go to med school after graduating.
Q: Who was your primary recruiter and what did you like most about his style?
A: Coach Beck was my main recruiter. I liked how he was most interested in establishing a relationship. Everyone else would just push their school every time I talked to them.
Q: Were there any other coaches that influenced your decision?
A: Yes. I really liked my meeting with Coach (Bo) Pelini, and Coach (Rich) Fisher was the first coach who contacted me.
Q: How would you describe Coach Pelini?
A: From what I can tell, he's a coach that is willing to put his players first. He has the reputation of being a heated coach but he seems to know when to turn it on and off.
Q: What was your most memorable football moment in high school?
A: In my final game – well after I had torn my ACL – I was asked to go in on the hands team for the possibility of an onside kick. No one had yet realized that I was hurt that badly, and I didn't think I'd have to run anyway because if the ball went to me, I would just fall on it. They kicked it deep instead so I had to run (or mostly hobble) back a few yards to get in position to block for the runner. When I turned around, there was a player right on my back. I stuck my foot in the ground and launched my shoulder at him and sent him flying ... really. I'm really proud of that block because I thought it was at a point where I could have used my knee as an excuse not to go out on special teams. It was at a critical moment in the game when my team needed me. I was rewarded in a way that I was not expecting, with one of the hardest hits I've ever been able to dish.
Q: Do you have a role model?
A: My role model is my dad (John Stanton lll) because he always puts family first.
Q: What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
A: Mine was more embarrassing than funny. I was in a meeting for incoming freshmen in our gym and working a booth on the gym floor for one of my classes. While one of our teachers was speaking to more than 400 people, I leaned a little too far back in my chair and fell backwards in front of everyone. Luckily, I'm able to laugh when I look back on it.
Q: What Nebraska game have you seen live and what was the experience like?
A: I went to see Nebraska play at UCLA in the Rose Bowl and at home against Michigan. It's was incredible the amount of Husker fans there were at the Rose Bowl and for the game at home. I thought the size of a full Nebraska stadium was incredible. The height of the stadium really contributes to its size compared to the Rose Bowl, which doesn't have multiple layers, so it doesn't look as big as Nebraska’s.
Q: Nebraska has a 325-game streak of consecutive sellouts. What does that say?
A: It says Nebraska fans are the best in the nation! Nobody beats their loyalty!
Q: What appeals to you most about Nebraska’s focus on academics?
A: The tradition of excellence in academics for the student athletes. The number of Academic All-Americans Nebraska has had is just incredible.
Q: What about Nebraska’s focus on life skills?
A: There are so many ways for a student-athlete to contribute to the community, and you can see that the community is so grateful when the players contribute.
Q: How would you describe the Nebraska strength program and how would you compare it to others?
A: I'm not sure I have enough experience with it yet to compare it to other schools, but from the moment you walk into the weight room, you know that Nebraska is intensely committed to make its players stronger and faster. Coach (James) Dobson seems set on giving the players every opportunity to get stronger and healthier.
Q: What do you think of the expanded East Stadium?
A: Very cool! Not many schools have an 85,000-seat stadium and then say, "Let's build more.” It's going to be amazing playing in front of that many people (92,000).
Q: What will be your first goal at Nebraska?
A: My immediate goal is to bring the freshman class very close and to lead them as best I can. As a quarterback, you must assume a role of being a leader from the start, and I want to do my best in that role from the start.
Q: Do you have a personal motto that drives you every day?
A: I would say that my personal motto comes from Bible verse Mark 12:30, which says: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." I don't necessarily think it needs to apply only to faith though. I think when you commit to something, you go at it 100 percent – with all your heart, your strength, your mind, and your soul.
Q: What’s the best movie you’ve ever seen?
A: My favorite is probably Forrest Gump. Tom Hanks is my favorite actor, and I like history movies too, even if the movie is only pseudo-history.
Q: Best book you’ve ever read?
A: 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. I didn't read it for school, and that's partly why I'm proud for reading it. I like the sci-fi aspect of it.
Q: Favorite singer?
A: I'm more of a band guy so Young The Giant out of Orange County, California.
Q: Favorite comedian?
A: Robert Delaney
Q: Favorite NFL team?
A: The 49ers but I've always had trouble picking a favorite team.
Q: Best advice you’ve ever gotten?
A: “Whatever you are, be a good one." I heard that from Coach (Harry) Welch, my high school coach, but it might have been a quote from Abraham Lincoln.
Q: What Husker legend would you most like to meet and why?
A: I'd like to meet Tommie Frazier because I'd like to hear about how hard he worked to recover from his injury so he could come back and be 100 percent.
Nebraska coaches have no doubt that Stanton’s highly priortized goal will be met. And when it is, someone, who already has the “It” Factor, will have even more.
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