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December 16, 2011
Norland takes 5A title
ORLANDO, Fla. - Randy "Duke" Johnson had just finished a dominant performance as part of a 38-0 state championship victory for Miami Norland against Crawfordville Wakulla when he jogged over toward his team's bench and silenced some doubters.
"After the game, I went to the sideline and I found it next to my helmet, so I think it was a sign," Johnson said with a grin.
The "sign" he was referring to was a hat in the shape of Miami Hurricanes mascot Sebastian the Ibis.
On a day in which he rushed 21 times for 130 yards and four touchdowns in addition to a 69-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, it was a steady reminder that just because Miami is being flooded with scandal, that doesn't mean Johnson is on the open market for other suitors. Included in that group of potential vultures could have been Florida, who recently lost Rivals100 running back Mike Davis to a decommitment and could have been looking for another Rivals100 back to replace him.
"Naw, none at all," Johnson said when asked if Florida or any other schools are currently trying to sway him from his commitment to the Hurricanes.
Before the question was asked, Johnson had reiterated how excited he is to get to Miami, where he has been committed since Sept. 20 of his junior season.
Norland was just as impressive on the defensive side of the ball, where it was partially led by the strong presence of three-star defensive tackle Teko Powell, who was able to push the Wakulla offensive line all game long but also provided mixed news for Gators fans.
"I don't know the last time I talked to somebody from Florida, but it was a while ago, and I can't remember the coach's name right now," the 6-foot-3, 258-pound lineman said.
Although he hasn't talked to Florida recently, Powell said he is still open to all schools who have offered him - a list that includes UF - and will not make a decision until January. He named Alabama, Illinois, Louisville, West Virginia and LSU as the schools he has heard from the most lately.
Powell had three tackles against Wakulla, good for second-most on the team in the 5A state title game.
"That's our goal every game is to get a complete shutout," he said. "We call it a goose egg. We don't want nobody to score. This is the time that we stand up tall and fight and never back down."
Also leading the way defensively for Norland - who finished the season 15-0 - was four-star linebacker Keith Brown, who was tied for the team lead with four tackles. After confirming earlier in the week to Inside the Gators that Florida had not shown him any interest lately despite UF currently searching for options at linebacker, Brown said that his current commitment to Illinois was solid, although he added that Louisville, Ohio State and Miami all have an opportunity to flip him.