The Michigan Wolverines’ secondary is one of the looming question marks heading into the 2021 football season, specifically at the cornerback spot. It appears Gemon Green has emerged as the No. 1 cornerback, at least according to what Jim Harbaugh and other coaches have been telling us so far this offseason.
There is plenty of opportunity for someone to take a big step forward and claim a starting role this upcoming season. Many expect DJ Turner to battle with last year’s starter, Vincent Gray, for the No. 2 role. Jalen Perry also received some playing time a season ago, and Darion Green-Warren and Andre Seldon likely will put up a fight as well. But a candidate not talked about much, and rightfully so, is redshirt sophomore George Johnson.
Today we will take a look back at his recruitment and look ahead to what 2021 may bring him on the gridiron.
The story so far
Johnson was a consensus three-star prospect in the class of 2019. Ranked as the No. 879 overall player on the composite, Johnson chose Michigan over other offers from Georgia, Oregon, Florida State, Nebraska, NC State, Cincinnati and more.
An intriguing prospect in high school, Johnson predominately played quarterback for Martin County High School in Stuart, Florida. He also lined up at wide receiver from time to time, which is where most programs recruited him to play.
But Michigan, lead in this recruitment by Jim McElwain and Don Brown, took him as an athlete. What gave him potential on defense, despite not playing much of it in high school, was his measurables and speed. He clocked in at a 4.55 40-yard dash time and a 4.32 shuttle time in high school. And now, standing at 6-foot and 186 pounds, has the ability to line up at cornerback, which is exactly where he is at now in Ann Arbor.
Outlook for 2021
Up to this point, Johnson has yet to see the field in any capacity. When he was a wide receiver in 2019, he was named the Team Offensive Player of the Week for the Illinois game. But after his true freshman season, he switched from wide receiver to cornerback. Since making that positional change, he has yet to make any impact. He did not see the field at all last season in 2020, even on special teams.
This season will only be his second full-time season on defense, so it is understandable why it may take Johnson a bit longer than some of the other players to make it onto the field. Turner and Perry, who are both younger than Johnson, both made it onto the field on defense last season, but they are far more experienced at cornerback than Johnson is.
The transition to play cornerback to his full abilities will likely take Johnson another full season of practice for him to be acclimated enough to really have a chance of competing for playing time. I would not expect much out of the redshirt sophomore this upcoming season for the Wolverines.