Russell Shepard was a consensus top-10 recruit in the class of 2009 before making an immediate impact at LSU during his true freshman season. Houston Cypress Ridge High School coach Gary Thiebaud said he believes Oklahoma State signee Kevin Johnson is the same level of athlete as Shepard.
Thiebaud, who coached both players, said Johnson has the same type of physical ability as Shepard. The coach said he expects Johnson to make an immediate impact at OSU. "He brings the entire package,” Thiebaud said. "For us, he was able to score from anywhere on the field.” Johnson is the ideal fit for Oklahoma State’s new offensive system. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver has all the physical attributes that could help him develop into a difference maker in assistant coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense. "I’ve been watching them (Houston and Texas Tech) for years now,” Johnson said. "I’ve always wanted to play in an offense like this.” Johnson runs precise routes. He’s intelligent. He has the physical talent to succeed in the Big 12. "He has a 4.09 shuttle and 400-pound squat,” Rivals.com national analyst Jeremy Crabtree said. "You don’t see those type of things in receivers.” Theibaud first realized Johnson might be a difference maker during his junior season. "He broke a game wide open for us on a kick return,” Theibaud said. "He broke a lot of tackles, and we knew then” he was going to be a good player. Johnson has one attribute that could really separate him: Smarts. In college football, the physical differences between backup and starter are often minimal, so it’s the player’s intelligence, mental approach and will to succeed that separates them from the others. "He’s so intelligent,” Crabtree said. "His athleticism shines through on the field but also his intelligence. He runs very precise routes, crisp routes and I think that will come through very well.” Johnson realizes he’ll be back at square one at OSU, having to work for every opportunity to play instead of being a key cog in the explosive offense at Cypress Ridge. "In sports, as with anything, if there’s a challenge, I’m going to work hard for it,” Johnson said.