In-State Intro: C.J. Johnson

Bellevue West wide receiver C.J. Johnson is one of the best prospects in the state of Nebraska for 2015 class.

The son of former Nebraska wingback Clester Johnson, Bellevue West junior wide receiver C.J. Johnson is one of the top prospects in the state of Nebraska for the 2015 class.

Johnson caught 79 balls for over 1,300 yards in 2013, one of the best seasons ever from a receiver in the Cornhusker State.

"There are a couple things that set him apart from at least most wide receivers around the country," said Bellevue West first-year head coach Michael Huffman. "He's got tremendous size and speed. He's 6-foot-2, anywhere from 180 to 185 pounds, and he just started seriously lifting this year. I think by the time we get him out of program here, he's going to be 200-pounds when he graduates.

"Talking to Damon Benning (former Husker), who coaches at North, they really tried to jam him. That's the report on him, teams try to be physical with him, but he's what I call slippery. He's so fast he makes people miss on the jams. "

Johnson is fast, he recorded an unofficial 4.48 handheld forty at a local combine this past spring. With his combination of size and speed, the Thunderbirds are able to use Johnson in multiple ways, including digs, screens, and vertical routes.

"He really adjusts well to the ball," said Huffman. "That speed is deceptive… Another coach and I were really frustrated at the beginning of the season going through practices because he didn't look like he was trying. He's one of those guys that he's so fluid when he runs, he just runs away from people. Finally one day we just looked at each other and we realized, he's just that fast."

Johnson's recruitment has been steady, but probably not as big as it should be because of his geographical location. In the last decade, Nebraska is not a state known for producing a ton of D-1 skilled position talent.

"I'm pretty frustrated about it to be honest," said Huffman. "I feel bad because he's not just some kid. He's got great size, good speed, good hands, he's got great grades. He's the tremendously humble. Everyone knew he was going to get the ball and he still produced.

"He's been on a visit to Wisconsin, two to Nebraska, he gets a lot of generic mail from Missouri. I have reached out to their recruiting coordinator. I know it's a school his dad and him want to learn more about."

Nebraska assistant Barney Cotton visited Bellevue West in the fall, the first day of the evaluation period, which shows Johnson is a target for the Huskers. How high on their board remains to be seen?

Johnson did camp with Nebraska last summer and is almost a shoe-in for a junior day invite.

"He's got to get stronger," said Huffman when asked what Johnson needs to improve on. "He wants to be good. I confronted him when I first got here. I told him, ‘here is the knock on you, you have good speed but you are not physical.' I challenged him. He's still got some work to do there, but he really worked on his blocking this season.

"It really helps that his dad played wide receiver in Lincoln for Coach Osborne. They know the value of blocking from a receiver."

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Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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