The commitment of 2022 five-star Will Johnson is a game-changer for Michigan’s class. With a roster lacking proven contributors at cornerback, Johnson is an elite talent who can see the field right away.
Johnson is listed at a lanky 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and has some great genes, as his father Deon played safety for Michigan in the early ‘90s. For Grosse Pointe South, Johnson plays on both sides of the ball. On offense, he utilizes his fluid athleticism at wide receiver and wildcat quarterback.
Being a touted cornerback at the high school level can be tough, as you rarely see the ball thrown your way. That was the case for the game I watched for this scouting report, Grosse Pointe South’s first ever win over Chippewa Valley.
Johnson was only targeted once throughout the entire game, but he still showed enough traits to get a handle on his ability.
First is his ability at press man coverage. He’s great at jamming receivers off the line and disrupting their routes. On the first defensive snap of the game, Johnson presses his man straight into the sideline.
The receiver actually does a good job fending off Johnson for a bit, but he’s soon overwhelmed and shoved out of bounds. They’re lined up at the bottom of the screen here.
Eventually the receiver got tired of this and started trying a swim move to get off the line quicker. It didn’t work, as Johnson kept his hands jammed in his chest and stuck in his back pocket throughout the route.
They’re at the top of the screen this time:
Johnson is confident in his abilities and patient when reacting to a receiver. On this play, the receiver tries to fool Johnson with a stutter step and quick acceleration. Johnson waits patiently and is able to smoothly open his hips to turn and run with him. He’s even able to get a quick shove in to disrupt the route.
They’re on the right side of the field here:
The natural athleticism of Johnson is best on display when he’s on offense. Lining up at wildcat quarterback with his team down two scores, Johnson handles a low snap and wiggles his way through the defense for a touchdown. He has excellent body control and change of direction ability.
One area I am concerned about with Johnson is his ball skills. On his first five targets at wide receiver, he didn’t make any catches. Some of those weren’t his fault, but he got his hands on most of them.
On this play, Grosse Pointe South floods the zone to get Johnson wide open. The pass is way high, but Johnson is able to jump and get both hands on it. He fights the ball and looks unnatural trying to bring it down.
Recently, 247Sports dropped Johnson down from their No. 11 overall player to No. 33. The main reason cited was Johnson’s lack of verified testing numbers, so his 40 time is an unknown. Watching the tape, that shouldn’t be an issue as he’s able to easily stay with receivers down the field, although he never needed to turn on the jets completely.
Johnson will be able to compete for a starting spot as soon as he gets to Ann Arbor. Hopefully for Michigan, it will be a battle between Johnson and someone like Darion Green-Warren who has slid into a starting role. But with his size, athleticism and technique, the coaches will find snaps for him early on.