J.D. Johnson, Wolverine

J.D. Johnson, Wolverine

December 21, 2018

Phoenix (AZ) Pinnacle QB J.D. Johnson (image via USA Today)

Phoenix (AZ) Pinnacle quarterback J.D. Johnson, a 2020 prospect, committed to Michigan on Friday. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Arizona, Colorado State, South Carolina, and UNLV.

Johnson is listed at 6’4″ and 190 lbs. He claims a 4.79 forty, a 4.6 shuttle, and a 28.6″ vertical.

Rivals: 3-star pro-style QB, 5.5 grade
247 Sports: 3-star, 85 grade, #25 pro-style QB, #558 overall

Hit the jump for more on Johnson’s commitment.

Johnson was a backup this season to 2019 quarterback Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma), who missed some time due to injury and suspension. Michigan offered Johnson early in December, which quickly resulted in an unofficial visit for the weekend of December 14-16 (LINK), which was the final weekend before the early signing period. Obviously, Johnson loved his visit and hopped on board.

On the field, I think Johnson has a lot of similarities to Brandon Peters. Johnson has a good mix of size and athleticism. He stands tall in the pocket and has a nice overhand delivery. His velocity varies nicely and he shows excellent touch. He can change his arm slot to make some tough throws. He also stays ready to throw on the move, and his delivery is compact enough that he can get rid of the ball quickly when necessary. As an athlete he can scramble and escape from the rush, and he makes some subtle movements in the pocket to find throwing lanes.

Johnson does not have the strongest arm, but it’s adequate. He is a little less experienced than a lot of star quarterbacks, and that inexperience shows in a couple mishandled snaps that still ended up on his highlight reel.  Athletically, Johnson can move well enough to escape, but he probably won’t be much of a threat to run the ball or break big plays on the ground.

Overall, Johnson is a nice piece to add, but as a pure passer, he’s a step down from Harrison Bailey, whom Michigan had hoped to land until he picked Tennessee. Normally, I would say Johnson will definitely have a few years of grooming ahead of him, but with the way quarterbacks transfer at such a high rate these days, he could step in to play before we expect. When he arrives on campus, Michigan is slated to have fifth year senior Brandon Peters, redshirt junior Dylan McCaffrey, redshirt sophomore Joe Milton, and sophomore Cade McNamara, though it would be surprising if all of those players are still on the roster in 2020.

Michigan now has five commitments in the 2020 class: Johnson, WR Kalil Branham, TE Nick Patterson, CB Andre Seldon, and LB Cornell Wheeler. Johnson would be the first Arizona recruit to pick Michigan since 2009, when OT Taylor Lewan and DE Craig Roh picked the Wolverines. Along with Rattler, Pinnacle High School has also produced Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke in recent years.

TTB Rating: I’ll wait on giving a TTB Rating until the 2019 class is completed.


  1. Comments: 79
    Joined: 10/3/2015
    Dec 21, 2018 at 1:03 PM

    I assume leaving McCaffrey out here was an oversight?

  2. Comments: 3
    Joined: 10/21/2017
    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:40 PM

    He seems to throw off the back-foot a lot. A lot of great throws on the run though.

    • Comments: 18
      Joined: 9/28/2015
      Dec 25, 2018 at 4:17 AM

      It is highlight footage, but yeah, he’s got a lot of nice accurate throws in the footage both on the run and on deep balls. Hopefully low release point does not = batted down passes.
      Navarre was a tall QB with a low release point and a ton of blocked passes, but for him, the D-line deflected passes were usually due to staring down his 1st option and then throwing that way.

  3. Comments: 18
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    Dec 25, 2018 at 12:29 AM

    I don’t usually watch recruit videos anymore, but I watched one linked over on mgoblog.
    Looks like he’s always throwing from the shoulder rather than OVER the shoulder. A really low release point like he’s almost shot-putting or short-arming the ball.
    Not sure I noticed the varied arm slot positions on the video. They pretty much all looked low and at the shoulder.
    In my completely unprofessional opinion, the coaches will have to break his throwing motion in order to fix it. But of course… I”m just a guy on a couch who doesn’t coach football and never played QB during my very brief playing days. Here’s hoping mine is the pessimists view 🙂

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