Taglieri said Johnson had some problems with assignments in the past, but graded out at around 93% this season on his way to earning All-County and All-State honors and helping lead the Redwings to the state semifinals.
“I think it's just me growing up and taking advantage of the coaches,” said Johnson, a promising two-star offensive lineman from Hoboken, N.J.
Johnson should have no problem continuing to improve with the help of his coaches at the next level; Taglieri said he hit it off well with head coach Ralph Friedgen and recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo during offseason visits. Johnson will take his official visit to College Park next month.
Taglieri said Johnson also improved his aggressiveness and gotten better at using his hands to pass block. His biggest area for improvement, though, is his strength.
“He needs to get a lot stronger and a little more aggressive for the type of ball Maryland plays,” Taglieri said.
Johnson weighs 340 pounds and said he would like to get down to 315-320. He has already began dieting and weight training on his own and looks forward to working with Maryland's renowned strength and conditioning staff. Taglieri thinks Johnson can afford to go even lower, placing his ideal playing weight at 290-300 pounds.
“I don't think it's going to be an issue,” Taglieri said. “[Maryland] is going to want [his weight] down, and he's going to have to do it. He'll be fine whatever they want him at.”
He would seem to be a likely redshirt candidate, but is unsure about that as well as his future position. He'd like to stay at left tackle, but can adjust.
“I'm a good fit for Maryland because I can adapt very well,” he said. “I can pass block or I can run block. I'll basically do anything.”
Taglieri praised Johnson's quick feet, a product of his time spent playing basketball. Johnson is taking a break from the hardwood this year to concentrate on academics.
“I'm doing pretty well [in school], I just want to make sure I get my grades higher,” he said. He recently took the SAT and
ACT tests and is awaiting his scores.
Johnson wants to major in business and said the university's highly ranked business school was an important factor in his decision. He feels comfortable at Maryland not only because of his rapport with the coaches, but because it will allow his family in New Jersey and North Carolina to see him play.
“It doesn't get much better than ACC football,” Taglieri said. “It's big time, week in and week out. The challenges are there.”
“[College] is a new adventure,” Johnson said. “My parents and friends tell me college is fun, but I'm also going to have to work hard. [I'm excited about] playing under the lights and in front of all those people.”
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