Johnson Aims For January

Clem Johnson

Coach Al Golden made a tempting offer to Clem Johnson – after – the 5-11, 185-pound quarterback verbally committed to Temple in late June. Golden suggested that Johnson could transfer from Valley Forge Military College to Temple in January, instead of waiting until next summer – if he completes the necessary coursework. Johnson is now aiming for that date.

Coach Al Golden made a tempting offer to Clem Johnson – after – the 5-11, 185-pound quarterback verbally committed to Temple in late June. Golden suggested that Johnson could transfer from Valley Forge Military College to Temple in January, instead of waiting until next summer – if he completes the necessary coursework. Johnson is now aiming for that date.

The Owls have secured more than a half dozen commitments this summer, none with more accolades than Johnson, who starred at Carlisle (Pa.) High School and played in the Big 33 Game before heading to Valley Forge – where he was an all-conference pick last season.

The twist to this recruiting story is that Johnson and the coaches at Valley Forge and Temple are all in agreement that his football future is at safety, not quarterback.

"Not too many coaches really want a 5-11 quarterback," Johnson admitted in a recent interview with OwlsDaily.com.

He started at safety in the Big 33 Game. He's been working at defensive back throughout this offseason. And the Owls didn't attach any demands to their scholarship offer.

"They asked me where I have my mind set on playing," Johnson said. "They know I'm an athlete. And I might as well play defensive back because that's where I'll have to play at the next level. They said they were comfortable with that decision."

Having said that, Johnson added that he's sure he'll see action at quarterback this fall. He has no problem playing both sides of the ball at Valley Forge or Temple. Right now, that's what he expects.

So how did the Owls grab this all-purpose threat?

Golden laid the groundwork during his first month on the job, contacting Carlisle's star signal caller soon after he guided the team to an 8-3 finish in 2005. Johnson's senior year performance earned second-team all-state recognition. As a junior, he led the Thundering Herd to the District 3 Championship Game.

But Johnson didn't do so well in the classroom during his earlier years at Carlisle, so he already knew by the midpoint of his senior year that he wouldn't be eligible to play Division I football in 2006. That's why he was never a hot commodity on the recruiting trail.

Temple talked to him anyway.

"They were always really interested, they stayed on top of me," Johnson said.

Barely 18 months later, the early and continued recruiting work of Golden and assistant coach Andrew Dees has paid off.

Johnson said he received an offer from Rhode Island this offseason, and he was talking to West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Temple's offer was too good to pass up.

Before he joins the Owls, though, he'll have to complete the rigors of everyday life at Valley Forge. Johnson did not choose the military academy by accident.

"My assistant coach from high school threw it at me during my senior year, and at first I didn't like the idea because of what I thought it would be like," Johnson said. "But my mom was all for it, she thought it would be good for me, and after awhile I came around. I kind of liked the idea of the military life."

Life at Valley Forge has been exactly what Johnson expected.

"It's a different lifestyle," he said. "It's a lot of discipline. Wake up every morning at 6, study every night, the marching. It's a good experience. It was definitely a good route for me to take. I've developed a lot of good habits."

Among those habits – solid work in the classroom.

Johnson said he accumulated 32 credits during his freshman year, and he needs 48 in order to transfer to Temple in January. He never thought about the possibility until the Owls presented it to him recently.

Now he plans on taking 17 or 18 credits this fall. If he passes those classes, and his transcript is cleared, then he'll be on his way to North Broad Street.

"Philly is right up my alley," Johnson concluded.

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