CUMBERLAND, Md. -- Fort Hill (Cumberland, Md.) hosted Capitol Christian (Landover, Md.) Oct. 25, and the Sentinels ended up 56-16 victors. Terrapin Times was on hand to scout Fort Hill's star running back and cornerback, Ty Johnson, who is currently committed to Maryland. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Johnson ended up with eight carries for 173 yards and two scores, to go along with one catch for 29 yards and a touchdown. To boot, Johnson had three tackles and a breakup at cornerback.
Check out his scouting report below, followed by a video interview:
An all-purpose, do-everything prospect, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Johnson indicated he is slotted to be a running back at Maryland. Though he looks smaller in pads, Johnson has a solid build with muscular legs and a strong core. His power can be deceiving, as he’ll bust through most arm tackles.
While Johnson’s a noted speedster, one of his best qualities is his vision, both between the tackles and in space. Johnson has that knack for anticipating holes and then bursting to daylight. He patiently follows his blocks; chops his feet as he senses when and where the gaps will emerge; and then either slips through, cuts back or taps the accelerator.
Indeed, Johnson’s a one-cut-and-go type with above-average instincts. With his sense of timing and space, coupled with his nimble feet, Johnson would seem to fit perfectly running behind a zone-blocking scheme. He doesn’t dance around in the backfield, trying to dodge a coterie of would-be tacklers, so at the very least Johnson’s not going to cost you yardage.
Physically, Johnson’s a short strider with excellent short-area quickness and solid intermediate-to-long speed as well. He has the aforementioned initial burst to hit the holes, the giddy-up to out-run linebackers to the edge and the afterburners to blow by some safeties/corners.
Although he’s mainly a running back at Fort Hill, Johnson’s an adept receiver as well. He’s a smooth route runner with soft hands, who can take a pass in stride, cut on a dime and slice through the defense. On deeper routes Johnson gets into his pattern rapidly, reaches top speed in just a couple short strides and covers ground in a hurry. He often looks like he’s gliding, because his strides are smooth and precise.
It should be noted that Johnson’s a willing blocker too, both out on the edge and in the gaps when he’s asked to pick up a linebacker.
As far as intangibles go, it’s obvious Johnson’s a competitor with plenty of grit to him. He’s not one of those track stars who shies away from contact and want to run 9-routes all game long.
There are a few areas Johnson could improve in, however. Johnson is said to have clocked in with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, but he may not have that eye-opening “Florida speed.” Basically, Johnson can hit the home run against his respective high school competition, but we’d like to see even more downfield burst to take the top off FBS defenses.
In the open field, Johnson relies on his wheels to run right by defenders, and that’s OK to an extent. But we’d like to see a little more shake and wiggle so he can make guys miss and become more slippery. Right now, his jukes and dekes tend to be a bit methodical, and for those to work in the FBS they have to be more precise.
Also, for a shorter back, Johnson tends to run high, which will make him an easier target for would-be tacklers. Even so, Johnson does seem to run with good balance, though it would probably be even better if he kept a lower base and gave defenders a smaller strike area.
Finally, Johnson is going to have to bulk up and add strength if he’s going to be a running back at the next level. Right now, though he has “sneaky strength,” Johnson probably won’t be able withstand a constant beating between the tackles. He’s not a pile pusher type of back, someone who is going to absorb multiple hits and still produce positive yards.
If Johnson remains at his current weight and body build, he could very well be shifted to slot receiver at Maryland -- or perhaps cornerback if that’s where he’s needed.
Speaking of corner, Johnson does have potential on that side of the ball. Once again, his instincts shine in this area, as he’s adept at reading receivers and jumping routes. Johnson seems to bate the quarterback, playing a few yards off his man before using his fast first step to undercut the route.
Johnson displays good range too, adeptly switching off his man to cover a tight end/receiver coming across the middle. Again, his initial step, coupled with his solid closing speed and instincts, allow him to shoot forward for a breakup or tackle.
But Johnson’s main selling point is his work in press, where he’s allowed to play bump and run. Again, Johnson’s footwork stands out, allowing him to readjust to quicker wideouts while smoothly transitioning. He has loose hips as well, showing the ability to turn and run, while maintaining inside position down the field. Johnson’s tough at the line as well. Even against taller, bulkier receivers, Johnson does not back down, actively working to knock his man off the route.
When quarterbacks do throw to his side, Johnson displays above average ball skills and sticky fingers. He rises up like he’s the intended receiver and high points the ball. Johnson is physical in the air as well, fighting to come down with the pick/breakup.
It’s no surprise he’s a willing tackler out on the edge too. Johnson is used to defending the run, and he’ll come up, lower his shoulder and deliver a pop.
But we’d like to see Johnson show what he can do when he’s forced to consistently track deep. He really wasn’t tested up top, so it remains to be seen what his recovery speed is like.
When Johnson is in zone, every once in awhile he’ll get caught flat-footed when a receiver breaks off his pattern early. He has to continue working on his field awareness, since elite route runners will be more difficult to read.
Johnson also has to make sure he stays consistent with his eyes. He can sneak peeks into the backfield now and get away with it, but that might burn him at the next level.
In fact, Johnson could probably stand to hone his all-around defensive fundamentals. The main concern for him at corner now is consistency, as you’ll see his tackling form, breaks and footwork lapse from time to time.
Johnson Ready For UMD; Plus Scouting Report
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