Pair of Blue Devils sign to play at next level

Finishing their high school careers where they started them together, Maiden quarterback Matt Johnson and running back Will Jenkins signed their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.

Johnson joins the first-ever recruiting class at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, while Jenkins signed to play for Fayetteville State University next season.

In 2011, Johnson ran for 1,789 yards, threw for another 1,077 yards and scored 30 offensive touchdowns (22 rushing TDs, eight passing).
On defense, he collected 41 tackles (31 solo) and intercepted one pass.

He originally committed to UNCC on Oct. 6, 2011.

“I’m definitely excited about it,” Johnson said of his college football future. “I think everyone is excited about it. The whole school is excited about it. The student body and city of Charlotte is excited about there being a program. It’s huge.”

Jenkins, who rushed for 2,034 yards and 18 TDs last season, learned about his college and football future two days prior to Wednesday’s signing.

Achieving his life-long dream, Jenkins said, is amazing.

“I’ve always wanted to play college football since I was a little kid” Jenkins said. “I just kept working hard and kept my grades up. I just finally did it. It’s a reality. I’m going to play college football, what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Behind a stout offense led by Johnson and Jenkins, the Blue Devils were 9-5 in 2011, including a 6-1 record in the Catawba Valley 2A.

Maiden also made it to the third round of the playoffs before being knocked out by 2A state runner-up Lincolnton.

“We just came together as a team,” Jenkins said. “With Matt at quarterback and me at running back, we had two strong people in the backfield. We had great blocking. We did what we could. As a team, we made it far.”

Jenkins said he expects to play running back in college, but he won’t know officially until he gets to Fayetteville State.

“When I visited up there, I liked the whole facility and its coaches,” Jenkins said. “I’m excited to be going there.”

Johnson said in October that he was recruited to play quarterback at UNCC. Despite the team not playing in 2012, Johnson plans to be ready for 2013.

“I’m going to practice every day,” Johnson said. “I’m going to go down and get a playbook as fast as I can and watch cut-ups with the coach. I’m going to study the game of college football before I even have to go in for my first year of practice.”

After Wednesday’s signing, Jenkins said he is definitely relieved to be going to play for a college football program.

“There’s a little bit of weight off my shoulders,” Jenkins said. “I can’t wait to start playing.”