Scout.com: Keyshawn Johnson in Tuscaloosa

abone@scout.com
Posted Jul 8, 2010


Keyshawn Johnson, three-time All-Pro wide receiver, spent the weekend in Tuscaloosa as a coach at the Badger Sport/New Level Athletics National 7-on-7 Championship Tournament. Players and spectators were heard yelling throughout the weekend, "Just give me the damn ball." Scout.com interviewed the ESPN analyst.


Keyshawn Johnson brought in a group of all-stars from California and served as the offensive coordinator for the team, 1925 Elite. The team comprised of Los Angeles' finest high school prospects including USC commmitments DeAnthony Thomas, Victor Blackwell and 2012 receiver Jordan Payton. Johnson talked about the tournament and the meaning behind the name of their team.

"This was a great experience for all the kids who were participating," said Johnson. "All the the players out here are big time. I felt like they all played well and were taught well.

"It was a very good experience for myself. Hopefully, these kids are having a good experience working with myself and Brian Kelly. As long as these guys are having a good experience and learning something that's what is most important.

"The tournament was very good. These kids are out here having a lot of fun and getting great exposure from media like Scout.com. It was a very good experience, and the players should be proud of themselves. I played in a few passing league tournaments when I was in high school, but never anything of this magnitude."

Johnson's team was arguably the most talented of the field and undefeated until the championship game. Johnson said the first day of the tournament, more as motivation, his players would walk back to California if they lost a game in the event.

"It was disappointing to lose," he said. "The kids know I was upset, and I know they were too. I hate losing. We didn't lose a game until the championship, and we had a chance to win it.

"We had a key player not out there for us [Victor Blackwell] in the final drive. If we would have scored on the slant pass at the end I definitely would have gone for two points to win the game. I'm happy the way we played, but I am not smiling because we lost. I am not going to make the guys walk home though."

The former USC star coached several future Trojans in the championship tournament and came away impressed with their performance.

"I know these guys on our team," Johnson said. "We have played in a couple of Badger Sport tournaments. A lot of guys on our team have impressed me. The Black Mamba did a tremendous job. I think he still has a lot to learn, but it was a good experience for him. He got a great chance to experience some of the same type of medicine he'll be experiencing at the next level.

"I thought Victor Blackwell did very good. I wish we could have had him in the end, but we had to go with another grouping. I thought he had a great camp and was easily one of the top two wide receivers in this entire tournament."

The name of Johnson's all-star team, 1925 Elite, has a personal connection with the coaches who arrived from the West Coast.

"1925 is a production company that Brian Kelly and myself started," Johnson said. "We do lifestyle reality pieces for sports celebrities, colleges and high school sports. We put the name together with our team and just called it 1925. It's my old number (19) and his old number (25)."

Johnson's plans for the remainder of the summer are simple.

"I am relaxing now," he said. "I am done. The stress is over."

Keyshawn Johnson is also an ESPN NFL analyst on Sunday and Monday Night NFL Countdown.

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