2016 Season Countdown: #94 Nate Johnson

2016 Season Countdown: #94 Nate Johnson

May 22, 2016
Nate Johnson 936x

Jim Harbaugh and Nate Johnson hit the dab at the in-home visit

Name: Nate Johnson
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 175 lbs.
High school: Thompson’s Station (TN) Independence
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: Johnson was a senior in high school (LINK). He caught 87 passes for 1,713 yards and 27 TDs.
TTB Rating:

Johnson popped up on Michigan’s radar fairly late in the process. He was a Purdue commit for a while, flipped to the Wolverines, and then said he would make a final decision on National Signing Day after flirting with the prospect of going to Miami or Notre Dame. He signed with the Wolverines after a meeting with Jim Harbaugh in which he was assured that Michigan still wanted him; rumors existed that Miami and Notre Dame would no longer take him at that point. It was perhaps the strangest recruitment of any of Michigan’s signees. Anyway, Johnson was extremely productive as a high school senior, scoring 27 touchdowns and catching 87 passes. I’ve always been a part of run-oriented high school offenses, so the idea of putting up those numbers in high school boggles the mind.

Production aside, I don’t think Michigan needs to rely on Johnson this season. He’s tiny and bound for the slot receiver position, which Michigan does not utilize extremely often with all the tight ends and fullbacks and such. Grant Perry returns as Michigan’s incumbent slot, and both Kekoa Crawford and Eddie McDoom are physically more prepared for college, though neither of them enrolled early. Johnson could help down the road as a punt returner, but again, that position already has some experience. This season should see him watching and learning, but there will be more opportunities next year after Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson graduate, allowing Crawford, McDoom, and Perry more opportunities to potentially play outside.

Prediction: Redshirt

One comment

  1. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    May 22, 2016 at 1:37 PM

    In guessing which of the WR recruits are most likely to red-shirt I also land on Johnson for the physical reasons you identify. BUT, you have to acknowledge that it is just a guess.

    I suspect we’ll see at least 3 freshman WRs play. We need somebody who is dangerous as a playmaker (Perry seems analogous to Deveon Smith to me as a guy who is reliable and effective but isn’t going to hit home runs). We need somebody to step up next year when Darboh and Chesson both leave. So, I think Michigan is going to give a bunch of guys a shot at WR, especially early in the season where we project to have some lopsided outcomes that turn into on-field tryouts and 2017 previews.

    Given the need at WR I wouldn’t put any freshman that projects there this low on the list. I just don’t think Ways, Harris, and Perry have done enough for the staff to feel great about the ’17 WR situation. They didn’t take this may WR recruits to watch them all sit around and I don’t think we can yet say with much confidence yet what the pecking order between the freshman is. I also think Johnson’s potential to make a special teams contribution has to be factored in here too.

    Finally, Ultra-productive HS players have a tendency to be pleasant surprises even when they are undersized (e.g., Hart, Perry).

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