Caleb Johnson attended Fullerton College from 2016-2018 and never lost a game anytime he stepped on the field. He was a part of the 2017 CCCAA State and National Championship team before sanctions from the CCCAA made the Hornets have to vacate 7 wins in 2017 and 8 wins in 2018 in addition to having to vacate the championship as well.
Before the sanctions were handed down, Johnson recorded 41 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2017. He was a three-star recruit and ranked the 40th Junior College prospect overall and 2nd best inside linebacker according to 247 Sports.
This was good enough to get him on the radar of several Division 1 programs.
Following the breakout season, it took some time for schools to offer him a scholarship. “I had a real good year but I felt like it was going unnoticed … I was doing all my work hoping to just get one offer from anybody,” said Johnson.
Iowa State was the first school to offer him a scholarship, then more scholarships started coming in soon after. He had offers from Texas, Oregon, and Arkansas just to name a few. Johnson said the recruiting process was one of the most surreal times of his life because it felt like a dream come true.
When it came down to deciding on one of the many schools that were recruiting him the atmosphere of Texas was too much to pass up.
The rich football history and tradition of the program were key parts of why Johnson chose to play for the Longhorns. “It was just the school, Texas in general … even when they’re not good it’s still Texas” Johnson said.
Following a disagreement with one of his coaches over the rehabilitation process from a shoulder injury Johnson suffered he decided to put his name in the transfer portal.
One of his biggest desires was to play closer to home. Johnson said that he would tell his mom and others close to him that he was going to UCLA before even entering the transfer portal.
“The way it happened it just seemed too perfect … as soon as I entered the portal (UCLA) was like the first school to hit me up within like 30 minutes,” Johnson added.
Johnson was scheduled to participate in his first spring practices with the Bruins until the COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to a halt.
He said that the team is still holding meetings via zoom and using apps to help guide workouts from home or wherever the players are staying.
Despite being at two different division 1 programs Johnson said he still misses the Junior College experience.
Johnson explained, “I miss (Junior College) in general … nobody ever thinks they would while they’re there because everyone is just trying to leave … I talk about it with my old teammates all the time how much we miss (Junior College).”
He said the bond with his former teammates is what he misses the most. Johnson added, “some of my teammates there are gonna be my dogs for the rest of my life, it’s like a different type of relationship because they were there for me when I was down bad.”
Johnson said he hopes that the pandemic passes over in time for him to finally get back out on the field and finish his last two years of eligibility with the Bruins.
When asked what advice he would give to someone trying to play football at Fullerton College Johnson responded, “Number 1 is getting your grades right … you can ball out and not have the grades and you won’t go anywhere … the second part is just listening to the coaches because they’re ultimately in charge of your future.”