Keagan Johnson

Keagan Johnson, who plays receiver and defensive back, ranks second on Bellevue West in receptions and receiving touchdowns this season.

Bellevue West junior Keagan Johnson didn't travel all over the country last summer attending football camps (he attended three that were all relatively nearby). He also isn't big into parading along the sidelines before college games.

"I'm thinking more for my future than a photo op," the 6-foot-1, 180-pound receiver/defensive back said. "I don't want to take wasted trips. I get mail from places a lot but I don't want to waste my time with schools that aren't really interested."

Indeed, camps and sideline photo ops are part of the recruiting landscape these days. The fact that Johnson has pooh-poohed the current protocol hasn’t stopped recruiters from finding him. The schools Johnson lists in the “really interested” category are Northwestern, Wyoming, Kansas State, North Dakota State and South Dakota State.

In the next month and a half, Johnson — No. 3 in the 2021 NebHSRecruiting rankings — will be busy taking game-day visits to those five schools: Northwestern on Sept. 21; Wyoming, Sept. 28; Kansas State, Oct. 5; North Dakota State, Oct. 19; and South Dakota State, Oct. 26.

"The places I'm going are the places I am hearing from the most," he said. "I hear from Northwestern and K-State the most along with North Dakota State."

Then there are the schools that are in communication or have shown some interest. Nebraska, Northern Illinois and South Dakota are in that category.

Northern Illinois is the newest school to climb into the mix. T-Bird senior teammate Jay Ducker, a running back, is committed to the Huskies, and a group of NIU coaches saw Bellevue West play Papillion-La Vista on Friday night prior to their game against Nebraska.

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To this point, Nebraska is softly recruiting Johnson. He said he hears regularly from Kenny Wilhite, NU director of high school relations. NU inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud has had some communication with T-Bird coach Michael Huffman about Johnson, but Johnson hasn't had direct contact with Ruud yet.

South Dakota State offered Johnson in June. It was Johnson's first scholarship offer — his only one to this point — and the Jackrabbits have familiarity with him. His brother, Cade, is a junior at SDSU and was an FCS first-team All-American last season.

But SDSU isn't the only school with a family connection to Johnson. His oldest brother, C.J., played at Wyoming the last three season before retiring from football due to injuries prior to this season.

Johnson's father, Clester, has been helpful in the recruiting process. He too was a standout player at Bellevue West in the early 1990s and later went on to star at Nebraska.

Through three games Keagan Johnson is second on the team in receptions (10) and receiving touchdowns (3).

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