When you are 14 years young and throwing the ball during routine training to Notre Dame junior and future NFL wide receiver Michael Floyd, life has to be good. However, you aren’t afforded that opportunity unless you have adhered to a regimen for a very long time. A regimen that often precludes what is considered “normal” for an American teenager. But that is how Ricardo Edward Johnson III wants it.
Regimen is what Ricardo Johnson III thrives on. Ricardo, or R3 as some call him, is 15 now, and stands 5′-10″ and weighs 145 pounds. He realizes that even if football doesn’t become the focus of his life in the future, he still has learned important life lessons such as discipline and perseverance. R3 has enjoyed every demanding minute of it.
The St. Paul, Minnesota resident has been a chess champion for years. R3 sings in the Cretin-Derham Hall High choir. He also led his freshman football squad to a 7-1 record this past fall (his first loss in five years), all while garnering a 4.16 weighted GPA after his first semester of high school. But football is Ricardo’s first love. He said that he knew football was the sport for him when he threw a touchdown pass in second grade. He related that it was a calculated pass thrown to where his receiver should be, because he couldn’t see over his linemen.
As R3 has grown, he has tested himself versus his suburban peers and dominated. Under the expert tutelage of Performance Athletix University, an elite training company, he became one of the youngest players to successfully finish the intense eight month program at age 12. After that competition proved easy, he moved to the next challenge. In this case it was the rougher and rawer west side of St. Paul: the best the Twin Cities has to offer. It didn’t take long to see R3 could not only play but become the best in that environment as well.
Ricardo is now in the WelleFast Elite program. Bill Welle has conducted innovative training regimens for nearly 14 years and has trained a half dozen top ten NFL Draft picks. Included among his pupils is Larry Fitzgerald, who Ricardo enjoyed throwing to recently.
Playing quarterback at the university level is most definitely his goal. In fact he has attended camps of or has had interest from the following universities: Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington, Minnesota, Texas Christian, and Georgia. He really enjoyed meeting Florida’s current offensive coordinator Charlie Weis in 2009 while Weis was the head coach at Notre Dame.
Obviously there is a dominant father behind Ricardo pushing him relentlessly, right? Not really. Ricardo Johnson II wants his son to succeed, like every father should. However, he shares R3’s thoughts that the training his son is undertaking is beneficial regardless of the exact outcome. “I hope he becomes a governor, or President, or the CEO of my company. Those are my long-term hopes and dreams for him that don’t involve football, but as long as he wants to do that (play football), we will certainly do everything we possibly can to make those dreams come true.”
One thing Ricardo’s father does to help his dreams is to place him in different settings with varying viewpoints. These have included his local neighborhood, the more intense and diverse West Side Boosters youth team, the challenges of a storied high school program like Cretin-Derham Hall, and visiting the IMG Academy here in Florida. “We have tried to put him in as diverse environments as possible. Football is about having talent, having heart, and desire. Weve been able to see that with him, and he’s been able to see that in himself. It has helped him to become fearless in a lot of other places that maybe he wouldn’t have been, at such a young age.”
But can he bring his talents to Florida, the ultimate high school football state and match up as favorably? Right now, he plays where every game is on a baseball field marked for football, or a football field marked for soccer. So, can he make an impact where football is the undisputed king? We will find out March 26, as Ricardo Johnson III brings his considerable talents to the Bright House Sports Network IGNITE Elite Combine presented by Big County Preps. He will literally be measured against the absolute best Bay area prep underclassmen.
Despite being featured on the local Twin Cities newscasts, you can rest assured R3 will come in humble. He actually thanks his offensive lineman in some of the shared action photos on his FaceBook page. He’s just a kid that is genuinely grateful for his opportunities to play football. “Right now, I love the game. I’m able to put my cleats on, …my training shoes on and train,” Ricardo said.
“I’m able to do something that I love. You can’t say that about every person.”