There’s never been a lot of football talent coming out of North Dakota. While we are at it, we might as well throw in South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. There’s just not a lot of outstanding high school football played in these states.
Watching the Minnesota Gophers Spring Game, I didn’t think I would be impressed with James Johannesson at all. But, as the game wore on and he got a chance to run the ball I found myself
admiring his abilities.
Johannesson is from Fargo, North Dakota. That’s a really cold place and some people like the movie of the same name.
Phil Hansen is from Oakes, North Dakota and played at North Dakota State and then 11 seasons for the Buffalo Bills.
Jim Kleinsasser is from Carrington, North Dakota. He played at North Dakota and was drafted in the 2nd round by the Minnesota Vikings. He played 13 seasons in the NFL.
The state doesn’t exactly have college coaches driving all over the state knocking on recruits doors.
That said, James Johannesson was a 3 time All State Running Back at Fargo South High School. He ran for 6,158 yards and 81 Touchdowns during his high school playing days.
As a junior, he ran for 2,671 yards on 266 carries and 29 Touchdowns in leading his team to the AAA state championship.
In 2014, they didn’t win state, but he ran the ball 216 times for 2,072 yards and 32 Touchdowns.
He was rated as the top Fullback in the country by ESPN, but Fullbacks are not highly recruited any more and he was only a 3 star.
In spite of being rated as the top at his position in the country, he was lightly recruited and he only had offers from North Dakota and North Dakota State.
Minnesota was really the only major college program to offer.
With Shannon Brooks, a true freshman, and Rodney Smith, a redshirt freshman playing really well the Gophers had the option of redshirting Johannesson and that’s what they did.
Shannon Brooks, Rodney Smith and James Johannesson should split time at Running Back in 2016.