Minnesota Tight End On UI Recruiting Radar

In the recruiting game, it isn't always possible to be among the first to identify and contact top football prospects. But colleges continue to offer scholarships as they make their evaluations. The Fighting Illini may be late to the party for Minnesota tight end Will Johnson, but they are trying to make up for lost time.

Will Johnson is from Osseo, Minnesota. The tight end was well into the recruiting process when Illinois offered him recently. His recruiting coach Jeff Brohm is playing catch-up with the young star.

"I've been talking with Coach Brohm for a little bit. He's a real nice guy. I don't know a whole lot about Illinois football yet."

The 6'-7", 248 pounder has a long list of suitors.

"Right now, I'm looking at Auburn, Ole Miss, Iowa, Minnesota, Boston College, Iowa State, Michigan State and Stanford. Northern Illinois offered as well, but I haven't had much contact with them. I'm keeping an open mind."

He is considering a summer trip to Champaign.

"I plan to get out to Michigan State and Boston College, and after that I may look at going to Iowa and Illinois. I'm not real sure where I'll end up going."

Minnesota is not the favorite for the athlete who lives 20 minutes from Minneapolis.

"As far as watching the Gophers, I was born in Tennessee and lived there as a little kid. So I never watched one college consistently, I just watched every game I could. I'm up here now.

"I want to go wherever is the best. Coach (Jerry) Kill is a real good guy, so I see him a little more often. But I just want to go where it'll be the absolute best. Distance from home isn't necessarily a problem."

He has an idea what to look for when choosing a college.

"I'm looking for a coaching staff I'll get along with well, and a good atmosphere. I want an offense that uses the tight end for blocking and catching."

Academics is also important, although he hasn't settled on a major yet.

"I started off thinking I was going to go into teaching and coaching, but I'm thinking about opening that back up. I'm not sure what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna rethink that."

Johnson sounds like the prototypical tight end, a strong and aggressive blocker who can run routes and catch passes like a wide receiver.

"In our Osseo offense, I line up between Y and H, and slot a little bit. In our run offense, our coaches have me down-blocking against linebackers, reach blocks on d-ends and stuff. I catch the ball pretty well too. I run a 4.76 40 at 6'-7", so I can run a little bit."

Osseo was a powerhouse last year, and Johnson is optimistic for this fall as well.

"Last year, we had a pretty solid team. We had two receivers go D-I, the quarterback got several D-I offers, and we had a real good junior running back. So we played real good. We got beat by Wayzata in the Sectional championship, and they ended up winning state.

"This fall, we'll be real good. A lot of kids are working real hard, and our coaching staff is real committed. We'll see what happens."

It is a long shot at this point, but if Illinois can get Johnson to visit, it has a chance.

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