Profile: Jaquan Johnson
Location: Miami (Fla.) Killian
No. 9 S in nation
What I like: There is so much to like about Johnson. The first thing that jumps out at you about this kid is his versatility, as Johnson is a player in all three phases of the game on offense, defense and special teams.
He was born with two things you just can’t teach – athleticism and instincts and it’s this combination that makes him so good. Lets starts from the ground up – football evaluations begin with the feet and Johnson has great feet, quick feet and very good balance. He may not be the fastest kid running a forty but on the football field he shows excellent game speed. There is a suddenness to his game, at everything he does no matter the position.
It is these characteristics that make him such a good, all-around player. Offensively, he plays running back and wide receiver and I believe he’s good enough to play either one of these positions in college. Johnson can run behind his pads and is pretty darn effective as a runner in space because he can use his speed, make a move or run with some power. Johnson also has very good hands.
But he has the most long-term upside on defense at safety. Johnson is good near the line of scrimmage or around the box. He can fly to the football and shows range, whether it’s in run support or tracking a ball in coverage. Of course Johnson shows excellent ball skills and is a very physical player. This kid loves contact, especially on this side of the ball. He throws his body around always looking for the big hit. In coverage, he can turn his hips and run with receivers and I like the way he can play the ball in the air. And as I said above, Johnson can track the ball well once in flight.
On special teams Johnson has shown he can make plays whether on the ‘block’ team or as a return man.
What may be of concern: At this stage I would have minor concerns. The first is his size. He’s only 5-foot-10, 182-pounds. This could pose potential matchup problems down the line because of today’s bigger wide receiver. Secondly, I would like to see him become a more sound tackler. Johnson tends to go for the knockout blow rather than the fundamental, wrap up tackle. He can get away with that in high school but that will be much tougher to pull off at the next level. Johnson will need to continue to improve his coverage skills, which will come with more time, reps and development.
Overall analysis: Miami just landed one of the very best players from their backyard in Johnson. Sure, there are other kids that are bigger and faster, but this is a kid that’s just a heck of a player in all three phases of the game and he does it in Dade County. That’s good enough for me.
There is no doubt in my mind that he can be a very effective player in the Miami secondary and make an early impact on Al Golden’s football program. He’s athletic, versatile and plays with a fearlessness and toughness. Worst case scenario Johnson only makes an early contribution on special teams. He’s a kid that could be a utility player and perhaps start out in the Miami defensive backfield as a nickel back.
In my opinion, the ‘Canes won a big recruiting battle here. But these are the recruiting battles that need to be won by Golden and his staff. They are never going to win them all because there are just too many good recruits in South Florida. But this one they had to have. Johnson is local and he’s darn good and a prospect who can help out this program in a number of different ways.