Grosse Pointe (MI) South cornerback Will Johnson committed to Michigan on Sunday afternoon. He picked the Wolverines over offers from LSU, Ohio State, USC, and a bunch of others.
Johnson is listed at 6’3″ and 190 lbs. He’s a
ESPN: 4-star, 87 grade, #4 CB, #29 overall
Rivals: 5-star, 6.1 grade, #4 CB, #13 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 95 grade, #6 CB, #33 overall
Hit the jump for more.
Johnson is the son of former Michigan defensive back Deon Johnson, who played for the Wolverines from 1991-1994. That gave Michigan a leg up in the recruitment early on, but Michigan’s struggles this past season and the uncertainty of the coaching situation pushed Ohio State to the top for a while. After Jim Harbaugh signed his extension and Michigan hired a new defensive coordinator, though, the Wolverines surged back to the top.
Will Johnson – not to be confused with the defensive tackle who played for Michigan in the early 2000s – is adept at hand-to-hand combat in man coverage. He has great size and functional strength, and if he can get his hands on receivers, he can control them with his physicality. He has a nice stab on outside releases, and against inside releases, he rides receivers down and knocks them off their route. He sheds blocks well and comes up to support the run. His high school coaches use him in a variety of ways, including on special teams, at corner, at wide receiver, and at Wildcat quarterback.
The biggest thing Johnson is lacking is elite speed. Not only does he lack that speed, but he also looks like he does not trust the speed he has. When he’s in chase mode, rather than sell out for the tackle, he sometimes tries to reach and grab. It’s like he wants to maintain balance just in case he can’t catch the ball carrier.
Overall, Johnson is a player I would more likely peg for wide receiver than cornerback. It’s possible to be an elite corner at his size and speed, but it’s much more rare. I wouldn’t peg him as a 5-star (a.k.a. a future 1st-rounder) because of that lack of elite speed. Draft experts are throwing out Patrick Surtain II’s lack of suddenness and speed as a potential drawback, and Surtain was a superior prospect to Johnson (LINK). Of course, one can be a very good college player without being a first round draft pick, and that’s what I think Johnson will be. I think he will be similar to how Jeremy Clark played in 2016 except Johnson will hit that ceiling quicker. Johnson should be able to handle any size receiver opponents run out against him, and he’ll be able to compete for 50/50 balls downfield due to his size, even if a receiver gets a step on him.
The path to playing time is pretty open without many elite options on Michigan’s roster and some questionable players already on campus. Cornerback was one of Michigan’s weakest spots in 2020, and some of those guys could still be on campus when Johnson arrives in 2022. With his size and talent, Johnson could very easily step in and play immediately.
The last player to come to Michigan from Grosse Pointe (MI) South was walk-on quarterback Mike Kaselitz.
TTB Rating: I will not be giving TTB Ratings until I wrap up the 2021 class.
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