Derrick Johnson's summer vacation is going to be a short one.
The All-Met cornerback from Eleanor Roosevelt, who received a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina, leaves for school June 29. Johnson plans to take a summer course in African American studies as he continues his offseason weight lifting and conditioning routine. Preseason camp starts in early August.
"I'm really excited," Johnson said. "The coaches say that three freshmen are definitely going to play at cornerback and that one or two may start."
Johnson is one of seven cornerbacks the Tar Heels signed this year, according to North Carolina defensive backs coach Ron Case.
"Derrick is a talented young man. . . . He has speed, which is generally hard to coach, and that cornerback position requires great speed," Case said. "We really need a cornerback because both Dre Bly and Robert Williams left a year early [to the NFL] and we didn't sign any last year."
Johnson is one of 12 seniors from the Greenbelt school who will play college football. Fullback Andre Letren signed with Division I Jacksonville; headed to Division I-AA programs are defensive ends Donte Lewis (William & Mary) and Jeremiah Watts (Brown), place kicker Dave King (Brown), safety Damon Leonard (Morehead State) and lineman Terrence White (Morgan State).
Fullback Jermoni Dowd and defensive end Thomas Washington signed with Division II Bryant College (R.I.). Quarterback Kevin Snowden Jr. and running back Antoine Gamble will play for Division III Washington & Jefferson; defensive tackle Garrett Graves will play for Division III Wesley College.
Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Rick Houchens said the 12 have qualified academically.
"When these kids have exceptional scores and grades they elevate themselves to another level," Houchens said. "We've set that kind of standard here."
Houchens believes the incoming senior class will have just as many, or more, student athletes who will play college football.
"We're right on track to back that up again with our junior class. This should be a big Division I group coming up," Houchens said.
Houchens said coaches from North Carolina State and Syracuse are interested in senior offensive tackle Atul Sharma and senior quarterback Wendell Williams. Running back Marvin Ward also is drawing interest from Division I schools. Houchens said the three have met freshmen academic eligibility requirements.