Johnny Stanton IV is ready to join the LA Wildcats of the XFL

UNLV Rebels quarterback Johnny Stanton (4) runs the ball against Brigham Young Cougars.
UNLV Rebels quarterback Johnny Stanton (4) runs the ball against Brigham Young Cougars in the football game at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Johnny Stanton mainly played quarterback when he went to Santa Margarita High School. But, he also played a little bit of safety. Little did he know, this was the beginning of a varied football career where he has excelled in playing different positions on the team.

“I was always in love with the quarterback position growing up. That’s where I ended up getting my majority of my scholarship offers to play,” Johnny said. “There kind of became a time where I noticed that if I wanted to move on with football, I was going to have to move positions. I knew that I was versatile and athletic enough to be able to play a couple of different positions, and I ended up as a fullback, tight end combo.”

This is how Stanton has made himself valuable to football teams and stayed on the field.

In his final two years of college, Stanton joined the University of Las Vegas Rebels as a quarterback. However, when a starting position was not presented, he offered to play on special teams.

“I wanted to try to play more than I was getting the chance to. So, I offered the coaches if I could play special teams. After a couple of games, I got the chance to play special teams, and then got to play linebacker, and got back to quarterback after that.”

After his senior year of college, Stanton wasn’t sure if he could continue onto a pro-football career. However, after he received interest from the CFL, and was invited to an NFL pro day, he figured he might take a shot.

“During pro day I worked at quarterback, I worked out at tight end, I did some linebacker drills and I even did some long snapping.” Stanton explained how he deliberately made a point of showcasing the diverse array of positions he could play. Eventually, the Minnesota Vikings invited him to a mini-camp as a tight end, however they ended up signing him as a fullback for the 2018 NFL season.

It looked like his pro-football career was on track, until Stanton broke his ankle in a pre-season game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Stanton was forced to spend the remainder of the season healing, resting, and rehabbing. Essentially, this ended his season, and eventually ended his career with the Vikings.

“I was cut, which, you know, was not totally unexpected,” Stanton said. “The whole rest of this year I’ve been shopping myself around and trying to get on a team.”

It was not long before Stanton began to realize there may be an opportunity with the XFL. After attending an independent combine in Baltimore, he attracted the interest of an XFL scout. Soon, he received an invitation to attend the XFL Summer Showcase in Long Beach.

“I drove up to Long Beach and spent the day doing basically the same thing as a combine. I felt like I did pretty well. I felt pretty confident after that.”

Stanton must have done well because he soon found himself on the list of draft-eligible players, and then drafted by the Los Angeles Wildcats in the open round of the XFL draft.

He found out he was drafted when he was working at a part-time job as an assistant coach with the Santa Margarita Eagles freshman football team. The team even tweeted a photo of Stanton celebrating with the team.

Now that he is with the Wildcats, Stanton was even able to work-out with Quarterback Luis Perez and others.

“We’ve been working out together. We’ve had about three weeks or so that Luis Perez, our quarterback, has brought together the local guys to throw,” Johnny said. “We’ve had a number of workouts and I’ve been able to meet a lot of different guys like Jalen Greene and Nelson Spruce.”

In an attempt to demonstrate they were getting down to business, the LA Wildcats tweeted out a video of the players working out, under the watchful eye of offensive coordinator Norm Chow.

Growing up in southern California, Stanton is happy to be joining the Wildcats. “My family is very excited that they will be able to go to all my games,” Stanton said. “It’s definitely nice to be able to just like be playing for the local team.”

An interesting fact about Johnny Stanton’s college career is that he wore #4 as an homage to his grandfather, a WWII fighter pilot.

“A lot of people when they find out that my full name is John Stanton IV, they assume that it’s why I had #4 is because I’m the fourth one,” Johnny explained. “It’s actually because my grandfather, my dad’s dad, was a fighter pilot in WWII, and long story short, he flew an F4E Corsair. That’s the reason why I ended up wearing #4.”

When he joins the XFL, he hopes to be wearing a number in the “40” series, and be able to continue the reference to his grandfather’s wartime career.

The entire interview with Johnny Stanton IV may be found in XFL Xtra Episode 11-2019 – Adjusting

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