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Former Arizona defensive back reunites with Mike Stoops at Oklahoma

Cortez Johnson (right) was one happy Wildcat after Arizona's victory at Arizona State. Photo by Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

When sophomore defensive back Cortez Johnson left the Arizona Wildcats during spring ball, the word was that he was going to transfer somewhere close to his New Orleans home.

Well, Norman, Okla., is a bit closer.

Johnson has decided to reunite with former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, now the defensive coordinator and secondary coach of the Oklahoma Sooners. Also, Ryan Walters, who served as UA’s secondary coach last season, is a grad assistant at OU.

“I just wanted to get back with Coach Stoops and be closer to home,” Johnson told ESPN.com. “Oklahoma — it just felt right. Everything went great and fell right in place.”

Johnson played in eight games, starting two, as a true freshman last season, when he was slowed by concussions. He’s a big, physical defensive back who can play cornerback or safety. He probably would have had a significant role in Arizona’s five-man secondary this season.

Despite Johnson’s modest recruiting rankings — he was rated two stars out of five by Scout.com — Stoops identified the defensive back as an immediate impact player on 2011 Signing Day.

“Cortez will be a guy who will compete right off the bat for playing time,” Stoops said then.

Last fall, Stoops said: “He’s pretty much a slam dunk kind of guy. We knew he was a great player. You don’t see many corners that size who has that much range, athletic ability. There are a lot of things about him that stood out as a player.”

Despite the coaching change at Arizona, with new systems on both sides of the ball and further demands on strength and conditioning, not many players — at least so far — have left Rich Rodriguez’s team.

Quarterbacks Daxx Garman and Tom Savage left in December; Johnson left during spring.

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