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El Toro Quarterback Johnson Announces His Choice: UCLA

February 02, 1988|TOM HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

Quarterback Bret Johnson of El Toro High School, who was named the state's player of the year by Cal-Hi Sports of Sacramento, announced Monday that he will attend UCLA in the fall.

Johnson, who led El Toro to two consecutive Southern Conference championships, passed for 6,538 yards and 63 touchdowns in his three-year varsity career.

Johnson, who is 6-feet 1-inch tall and weighs 175 pounds, made recruiting trips to Notre Dame, USC, Penn State and UCLA and canceled a trip to Arizona State. He made his final trip to UCLA over the weekend and made his decision Sunday.

"I know some people thought it was cut and dried, that I was going to UCLA all along, but it wasn't that way at all," Johnson said. "I really didn't know where I was going until Sunday morning.

"I chose UCLA because that's the school I felt most comfortable with. I enjoyed all my visits and was impressed with all the schools, but when it came time to make a decision, UCLA was the school for me."

Many assumed Johnson would choose UCLA because his father and El Toro coach, Bob Johnson, was an instructor in Terry Donahue's summer camp during his son's junior season.

"I went to a ton of UCLA games during my junior year, so people naturally assumed I was going there," Johnson said.

With an impressive group of quarterbacks ahead of him, Johnson plans to redshirt his freshman season. Troy Aikman returns for his senior year in 1988, with senior Brendan McCracken (Loyola) listed as his backup.

Other top quarterbacks at UCLA include sophomore Ron Caragher (San Jose Bellarmine Prep), sophomore Bobby San Jose (Long Beach Wilson) and sophomore Jim Bonds (Newhall Hart).

"It's a big relief to get the decision over with," Johnson said. "I had called Penn State last week and told them I was no longer interested after they got a commitment from another quarterback."

Johnson was named The Times' county back of the year for two straight seasons in which he didn't lose a game he started. El Toro was 14-0 in his junior year and was named the state's top-ranked team by Cal-Hi Sports.

Johnson missed four games in his senior season after suffering a knee injury against Fountain Valley, but he returned to lead the Chargers to a 12-2 record.

Johnson has also been a starting point guard for El Toro's basketball team the past three seasons, but he said he would concentrate on football in college.

UCLA also received oral commitments from two prominent county players--Edison running back Kaleaph Carter and El Toro lineman Cory Wayland--over the weekend.

Wayland (6-5, 240) started on the offensive and defensive lines for El Toro but said he plans to play defensive tackle for the Bruins. He had narrowed his choices to USC, Colorado and UCLA.

Carter (6-0, 205) will play fullback at UCLA. He established a school career rushing record with 2,443 yards at Edison despite missing six games his senior season with a dislocated shoulder.

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