Monday, March 14, 2016
By Sammy Batten
Star receiver kickstarts class of 2017
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Caleb King helped coach three state 3-A championship teams in seven
seasons as an assistant at Havelock High School. During that tenure,
King also participated in the development of major-college prospects
like Tennessee defensive lineman Kendal Vickers, South Carolina wide
receiver Pharoh Cooper and East Carolina running back Derrell Scott.
Now the head coach at East Carteret High, King favorably compares the
talents of his current star to those players.
“I coached Pharoh, Derrell, Vickers at Tennessee, that crowd,'' King
said. “He has a little different style. But he could have played on any
of those state championship teams. That's how good of an athlete he is,
and he's that much of a competitor.''
“He'' that King refers to is East Carteret's junior wide
receiver-safety, Dashaun Johnson, who last Monday became the first
prospect to join East Carolina's recruiting Class of 2017.
The 6-foot-4, 203-pounder chose the Pirates over offers from Charlotte
and Old Dominion. Johnson was originally offered a scholarship by ECU's
previous coaching staff in November during his junior season. But it was
the new staff led by head coach Scottie Montgomery that prompted Johnson
to make an early pledge to the Pirates before his recruitment really
started heating up.
Montgomery and his staff so impressed Johnson that he made the almost
two-hour drive from the coastal town of Beaufort to Greenville to make
his commitment in person.
“I just really liked the coaches,'' Johnson said. “They really showed
they care and they want you to succeed as a man on and off the field.''
You might call Johnson a late bloomer in football, but he hails from an
extremely athletic family. His brother Cornelius Johnson is a point
guard at Catawba Valley Community College, while brother Tyrone is about
to embark on a college football career at N.C. Wesleyan.
Johnson's father, Cornelius, Sr., was also an accomplished football and
basketball player at East Carteret back in the day.
Dashaun's athletic skills were first a factor on the basketball court at
West Carteret, where he played on the varsity squad as a sophomore. But
he'd spend both his freshman and sophomore seasons playing junior
varsity in football before transferring to East Carteret for his junior
King, who would take over the East Carteret program in January 2015, was
already aware of Johnson before his transfer.
“I saw him right before I took this job when he was at another school,''
King said. “He was an absolute stud. When he got here, his work ethic
was off the chart. The way he works in the weight room every day and
grinds through it all is amazing. He has a lot of talent, but still
wants to work and that's the special thing about him.''
Johnson certainly proved himself worthy of King's praise while helping
the Mariners advance to the third round of the state 1-A playoffs en
route to an 11-3 record.
As one of the big-play performers on East Carteret's offense, he made 85
catches for 1,493 yards and eight touchdowns. Johnson had three outings
with more than 200 yards receiving, including back-to-back games where
he had 230 yards receiving against Lejeune and 260 against Southside.
One of Johnson's most memorable catches of the season occurred in the
contest with Southside in late October to decide the champion of the
Coastal Plains 1-A Conference.
“He had people draped all over him and he made a one-handed catch on the
sideline,'' King said. “It gave us a first down in a crucial
The Mariners went on to claim a 62-42 victory and their first Coastal
Plains football title since 2006.
Johnson also produced 66 tackles, caused three fumbles and made four
interceptions on defense. The two-way production earned him a first-team
berth on the All-Coastal Plains Conference team.
The Pirates have recruited Johnson to play wide receiver, but King
believes he's capable of helping out on either side of the football.
“They want him as a receiver right now, but I could see him playing
either side of the ball,'' King said. “He has tremendous defensive
awareness and is an incredibly strong safety. He's a guy they'll get in
their program and figure out what's going on.''
King expects more schools to pick up their recruitment of Johnson, but
he doesn't think it'll make a difference.
“He's solid to East Carolina,'' King said. “He wants to be a hometown
The pledge from Johnson marks an early start to compiling the
Class of 2017 for the Pirates.
Their first verbal commitment in the
Class of 2016 didn't occur until
mid-April 2015 when Raleigh quarterback
Reid Herring cast his lot with
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03/14/16 03:10 PM.