Northwestern State football coach Jay Thomas Friday announced the addition of two talented transfers to the Demon roster for the 2013 season, defensive back Jemarcus Johnson from Baylor and Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College running back Garrett Atzenweiler.
Johnson, a 6-1, 175-pounder who will be a sophomore, played in nine games at Baylor last year after a sparkling prep career at Lago Vista High School, where he played safety, running back, receiver and returner and scored 30 touchdowns as a senior for a 13-1 team that reached the Class 2A state semifinals. He was rated the No. 62 safety prospect in the country by ESPN.com and 66th by Scout.com, while Dave Campbell's Texas Football ranked him as the 10th-best cornerback in the Lone Star state.
"Jemarcus is a great get for us. He is an instinctive player that has great ball skills and can really step up to support the run," said Thomas, who begins his first season as the Demons' head coach this fall. "Jemarcus adds game experience to our defense as he received some playing time last year at Baylor as a freshman.
"He will bring speed and athleticism to our defensive backfield. He is a guy that will have an instant impact on our secondary as well as a kick and punt returner. We really got a good one in Jemarcus," said Thomas.
Atzenweiler is a 6-0, 225-pound running back who was a Kansas high school All-State performer who averaged 85.3 yards rushing per game and 5.9 yards per carry last season at Coffeyville. He was honorable mention All-Jayhawk Conference as a sophomore in 2012 and made the All-Academic Team named by the conference.
"We got a great pickup at this time of the year in Garrett. He has a unique blend of both size and speed. Garrett is a kid that will bring us leadership on the field as well as in the classroom," said Thomas. "He will bring a physical dimension to our run game and really create quality depth on all of our special teams. We really feel fortunate to add a young man of his caliber to our football team."
Atzenweiler scored four touchdowns last season and had 144 rushes for 853 yards, along with two receptions for 14 yards and a 16-yard kickoff return. He was named Coffeyville's "Most Outstanding Freshman" award two seasons ago and won the "Hall of Fame Award" both years in the program.
He played in the Kansas high school all-star game, the Shrine Bowl, before moving to Coffeyville, where his team went 6-4 last year.
Most of Johnson's action last year at Baylor came on special teams, but he got into the secondary and made three tackles at Kansas and then played in the backfield again in the Bears' Holiday Bowl win over No. 17-ranked UCLA. He recorded four tackles as a freshman.
Playing for head coach Alan Haire at LVHS, his 30 touchdowns in 2010 included 16 rushing, 12 receiving, one kick return and one punt return. Johnson earned second-team all-state honors from the Associated Press and was voted the 2010 District 13-2A Most Valuable Player at running back. He posted 1,453 yards rushing and caught 25 passes for 624 yards as senior.
As a return man, Johnson totaled more than 1,000 career yards in kick and punt returns. In the secondary, he made five interceptions as a senior after making three in his junior year. Also a star track athlete, Johnson broke four school records as a junior in 2010: in the 4x100 meter relay, 4x400, long jump and triple jump.