By Chad Rader, 810 Varsity
Ben Johnson asked his dad time and time again, while sitting at Memorial Stadium, if he’d be big enough to play as a Jayhawk.
John Johnson told him time and time again that he would someday.
Dad proved to be right many years later, officially on Wednesday when Ben signed his letter to commit at Basehor-Linwood High School to play at the University of Kansas.
“He used to wear me out,” quipped John Johnson, who played basketball and soccer collegiately as well. “We’d sit in the family section and Ben would ask ‘How tall is that player?’ ‘How much does he weigh?’ each game that we went. He would ask if he’d be able to play someday, and I said ‘You can play for any school if you work hard enough.”
Ben Johnson certainly did, as the 6-foot-6, 235 pound tight end Bobcat snared 956 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in his junior season, then became the first commit to Charlie Weis this past fall for the upcoming class. His numbers fell off his senior campaign with a new quarterback, but the athleticism of Johnson can’t be denied, as he helped lead BLHS to the 2011-12 Kansas Class 4A basketball title, and stars for the Bobcats on the hardwood again this year.
With all the games that the Johnsons watched at KU, when Ben got the call on a Thursday night, there was no doubt.
“I was in the coaches room and got the call, and was pretty excited,” Johnson recalled. “They suggested I wait for a few other schools, and I told KU that I needed a day, but I already knew I was committed. I wanted to be the first committed to the Jayhawks.”
While Johnson avoided the recruiting drama and decision making, he was still ecstatic about officially signing on Wednesday.
“It felt real good to know its all going to happen. I’m ready to move forward in the next part of life.”
Not only will the Johnsons likely enjoy an upgrade in tickets, but they can enjoy a long-time dream.
“That’s his dream come true,” John Johnson said. “That’s our dream come true.”
Johnson signed next to classmate and long-time teammate, Drew Potter. Potter signed with the University of South Dakota. Ironically, the two sat next to each other during the signing ceremony, and Kansas and South Dakota will open the season in Lawrence.
“That will be weird since we’ve been playing together since first grade,” Potter said.
Potter and lineman Andrew Lillich (Butler County CC) flanked Johnson at the signing ceremony in the BLHS commons area.
“This group really worked hard, and were key players to this program,” coach Steve Hopkins stated. “They deserve this because they worked hard for years.”