When defensive back Cortez Johnson was trying to decide which school to choose as a member of the 2011 class, the University of Arizona didn't stand out to the New Orleans native. But then-Arizona head coach Mike Stoops and his coaching staff made a big impression on the defensive back. Johnson said he connected immediately with Stoops and could tell Stoops cared about him as a lot more than just a football player.
Stoops also kept his word when he said Johnson, 6-foot-2 and 196 pounds, would get his chance to play as a freshman. Johnson played in eight games and started two, registering 16 tackles. He had a season-high seven stops against Washington.
But Johnson didn't feel right after Wildcats coaches Stoops, Tim Kish and Ryan Walters left Arizona for Oklahoma. So he decided to join them. After visiting the OU campus over the weekend, Johnson confirmed Saturday night that he will transfer to Oklahoma, enrolling at the school this summer.
“I just wanted to get back with Coach Stoops and be closer to home,” Johnson said. “Oklahoma – it just felt right. Everything went great and fell right in place.”
One thing Johnson will bring to OU’s secondary is versatility. He can play either cornerback or safety, and he also knows Mike Stoops won’t put him in a position to fail.
“They were talking about how whichever position is going to help me get on the field first is the one I’m going to play,” Johnson said. “For me, though, I really don’t care. I just want to play.”
Johnson didn’t need any more convincing, but he received it when he talked to OU head coach Bob Stoops. Expectations will be high for Johnson to come in immediately and make an impact and he said he has no problems with that.
Johnson spent a lot of his time on his visit with wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive back Tony Jefferson. And as the “Cali trio” did numerous times with the 2012 class, Stills and Jefferson helped reel in another Sooners prospect.
“Those guys are great guys. What I like about them is that they told me how things are going to be,” Johnson said. “They didn’t tell me what I want to hear. They told me how it will be. I had a great time and definitely enjoyed talking with the coaches.”
Johnson finished his classes at Arizona on Friday and said he is going to report to OU on June 4. Because of NCAA transfer rules, he will likely sit out the 2012 season and still have three years left to play for the Sooners.
At this point, however, that doesn’t matter because Johnson and his family are happy he has found a home.
“My family is very excited because they know how good of a school Oklahoma is,” Johnson said. “I’m going to work for everything. I know the guys at Oklahoma are bigger, faster. I’m going to get better, too.”
“This is a blessing.”