Photo by Dakota Sumpter

Jason Caldwell's Monday Morning Quarterback Column: Impressive Debut For Auburn's Michael Johnson And Summer Football Workouts

Summer Auburn football workouts, recruiting and the pro golf debut of Michael Johnson are featured.

Big Week For Johnson

Since his older brother and Auburn golf commitment Bradley Johnson died in a car wreck at the age of 17, Michael Johnson has had a goal of making it to the PGA Tour. From marking his ball with the initials B.J. to wearing a bracelet that says “Bradley,” Johnson has played the game his brother loved and done it to the best of his ability.

There is no doubt that his third-place finish in the Barbasol Championship over the weekend had to be a proud and emotional time for Johnson. Clearly disappointed that he didn’t win in his professional debut after wrapping up his collegiate playing days in June, Johnson showed a complete game over four days and has plenty of good days ahead of him on the PGA Tour.

Winning $238,000 and earning a spot in this week’s RBC Canadian Open, Johnson will have his work cut out for him to earn a PGA Tour card this late in the season unless he continues to post Top 10 finishes, but with his impressive all-around game and the driving force of his brother’s memory pushing him there is no limit to where Johnson can get.

After all this is a player who has already shown he can beat some of the best in the game, winning the 2010 Junior Players Championship over names such as Daniel Berger, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Rodgers, Emiliano Grillo, Beau Hossler and others. That was the confidence Johnson took with him throughout his college career and now he’s got a chance to take them down again.

Working Hard

During Auburn’s football camp days on both Friday and Saturday there were members of the current team working out in between sessions and sometimes during the sessions. Despite the intense heat there were guys out in the sand pits on Saturday, but the fun stuff happened indoors and we got to watch a good bit of the passing session with the quarterbacks and wide receivers.

With Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin throwing and the wide receivers rotating in to get reps, the passing game is definitely getting plenty of work this summer.

Johnson’s ability to throw the ball has never been in question, but there is no doubt that Franklin has improved by leaps and bounds throwing the ball since the spring. Whether that carries over to a game day remains to be seen, but he has put in the work to give himself a chance to win the job.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

John Franklin throws a pass on Saturday.

Outside at receiver it was apparent the group led by Marcus Davis and Tony Stevens is focused on being more precise running routes and also on catching the football. If something was done wrong it was immediately corrected with Johnson doing some of that himself from the QB spot.

There is still a long way to go from now until Sept. 3 when Auburn faces Clemson in the season opener, but there is no doubt players on this team are working hard to be ready.

 

Impressive Young Talent On Display

Over the course of three days we had the chance to watch hundreds of football prospects from around the country with three days of camps at Auburn and also the National 7-on-7 at Hoover. One of the most impressive was big running back Harold Joiner from Mountain Brook.

Injured as a sophomore, Joiner is a massive back over 6-2 and well over 200 pounds who ran in the 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash and had a broad jump over 10 feet at Auburn’s camp. When you combine that with very good hands, he’s a player who has a very bright future as teams get a look at him this fall.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Harold Joiner is an impressive player who will just be a junior.

Another young back in Alabama to keep an eye on is Tae Provens from Madison County High. Like Joiner, he’s a 2018 prospect who can do some damage running the ball, but also out of the backfield. The cousin of AU linebacker Cameron Toney, Provens has an Auburn offer and is high on the Tigers early in the process.

At receiver two of the best in Auburn were Seth Williams out of Bryant High in Tuscaloosa and Jacob Copeland from Pine Forest in Pensacola, Fla. A big receiver at nearly 6-3, 200 pounds, Williams has huge hands that allow him to have a large catch radius. With 4.5 speed Williams is a player who could be unstoppable when he gets to play wide receiver full time on the collegiate level.

Copeland may already be at that stage right now. Dynamic doesn’t begin to describe Copeland and he won the fastest man at Auburn’s junior camp and also made plays catching the football. The 6-0, 190-pounder ran a 4.35 in the 40 and already has offers from top programs around the country.

On the line of scrimmage Eufaula High's Kadarian Hill is a player to watch after he was once again impressive at Auburn’s camp. While he’s not the six-foot-five defensive lineman with a long reach that teams are looking for, Hill has explosion and plenty of power on his 6-0 frame and could easily play at 295 or 300 pounds on the next level. With a coaching staff that should allow him to continue to develop at Eufaula and a skill set that makes him a nightmare matchup for high school linemen, Hill should put up some monster numbers for the Tigers the next two seasons.

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