There was a lot of recruiting buzz associated with Kerryon Johnson's name heading into Thursday's state championship game.
It only took one quarter to see why.
At Jordan-Hare Stadium, Johnson scored two of his rushing touchdowns and returned an interception in the second quarter to fuel Madison Academy to a 31-7 victory over Fayette County in the Class 3A title game.
"During last year's playoff run, Kerryon Johnson made a name for himself all over the country," Madison Academy head coach Eric Cohu said. "I think he learned a lesson about having a target on him from the preseason all the way to the state championship."
Johnson racked up 135 yards rushing and intercepted a pair of passes in helping the Mustangs (13-2) avenge last year's 20-14 heartbreaking defeat to Handley in the state championship game. The 6-foot two-way standout was named the game's MVP.
Schools such as Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi State have already shown considerable interest in the sophomore, and Johnson can expect the list of potential suitors to continue to grow following Thursday's championship effort.
"My team needed me to score," Johnson said. "We got to put up points because they put points up, once the defense gets stops and that's just my time that I feel that we got to get in the end zone. If we need a big play, I'm going to try my hardest to get it."
His two first-half TDs put Fayette County (12-3) into a hole it couldn't dig out of.
On fourth-and-1 in the second quarter, Johnson sprinted up the middle virtually untouched on a direct snap for a 35-yard score which left the defense wondering what just happened. He struck again nearly four minutes later, plucking Marcellus Redmond's pass out of the air and racing down the left sideline to make it 17-0 at the 4:19 mark.
"I peeped (the quarterback) out of the corner of my eye, saw the wide receiver just standing there and saw the quarterback loading up and he throws it and I just took off trying to get over there," said Johnson, who picked off his second pass in the third. "I knew I had to get over there to save a touchdown."
Even though Johnson came up with the majority of game-changing plays, teammate Malik Miller grabbed some of the spotlight. The freshman running back had 121 yards and a touchdown out of Madison Academy's young talented backfield.
The scary part is that opposing 3A teams will have to deal with this tandem for two more seasons.
"The expectations are what we make it to be," said Miller, who had eight tackles and a sack on defense. "Kerryon is a great running back, I am a great running back, and we have great linemen. We're not losing too many people, so I don't see any reason why we can't get a repeat."