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UNM football: Wisconsin players commit

Hello, L.O.

Lawrence “L.O.” Johnson, a high school running back and sprint champion from Waunakee, Wis., announced on Twitter Monday night that he has committed to attend the University of New Mexico.

He plans to play football and run track for the Lobos.

Tuesday, UNM got another commitment from the Badger State. Blake Ferhmann, a defensive end from Brookfield Central High School, announced his commitment to the Lobos on Twitter.

Today is the first day of the signing period for mid-year junior college graduates and also the first day of the new 72-hour early signing period that applies to both high school and junior college players.

Johnson told the Journal via social media on Tuesday that he plans to sign today.

All commitments are non-binding until a signed letter of intent is received by the school.

Johnson, listed at 5-foot-11 and 208 pounds, rushed for 595 yards on 102 carries, a 5.8-yard average per carry, and 11 touchdowns as a senior for a Waunakee team that went 14-0 and won a state championship.

His relatively light load is easy to explain. Fellow Waunakee running back Javian Dayne, the son of former Wisconsin running back and 1999 Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, rushed for 2,263 yards on the season.

Last spring, Johnson won the Wisconsin big-school 100-meter sprint title. He has personal bests of 10.78 seconds in the 100 and 21.95 in the 200. More important from a football standpoint, he’s listed as having run the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds.

His father, like Dayne’s, is a former NFL player. Lawrence Johnson, a cornerback, played for Wisconsin in the late 1970s and spent eight seasons with the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills.

Fehrmann, listed at 6-5 and 225 pounds, had offers from Wyoming, Ball State, Buffalo, Illinois State and North Dakota. He had 79 total tackles, 28 tackles for loss and nine sacks this season.

Brookfield Central went 13-1 this fall, losing only to Waunakee, 14-13, in the state title game.

For UNM, Johnson’s and Fehrmann’s  commitments are two more products of Lobos defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove’s Midwest connections. 

Cosgrove, a Chicago native, has worked at Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. He recruited Lobos starting linebacker Alex Hart and safety Nico Bolden out of Minnesota, tight end Dyson Chmura out of Wisconsin and linebacker Rhashaun Epting and safety Marcus Hayes out of Illinois.

Johnson had scholarship offers from at least nine NCAA Group of Five conference schools, including UNM’s Mountain West rivals Colorado State and Wyoming.

Lobos coach Bob Davie has said running back is a recruiting priority for 2018. Richard McQuarley, Romell Jordan and Daryl Chestnut were seniors this fall. Three scholarship running backs, including 2017 leading rusher Tyrone Owens, are scheduled to return next season.

With Johnson’s and Ferhmann’s  commitments, UNM has eight players committed toward its 2018 signing class. In contrast, most of the Lobos’ Mountain West rivals have 14 or more and expect to sign more than half of their 2018 recruiting classes — thanks to the new early signing period — in advance of the traditional February signing day.

Davie, though has said he never expected to sign many high school players in December. He and his staff are focusing more on filling the eight mid-year junior college slots they have available. Six of UNM’s seven commitments thus far are from junior-college players.

They are:

Tre Bland (6-4, 290 pounds), an offensive lineman from Riverside (Calif.) Community College.

Tyson Dyer, (6-2, 195 pounds) a  punter from Palomar College in San Marcos, Texas.

A.J. Greeley, (5-10, 215) a defensive back from College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif.

Sheriron Jones (6-2, 208), a dual-threat quarterback from Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.) College.

Jarred Sylvester (6-4, 315) an offensive lineman from Dodge City (Kan.) CC.

David Zavala (6-4, 295), an  offensive lineman from Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif.