Top sophomore ready to visit Irish

Sophomore receiver Taariq Johnson sat behind Iman Marshall and JuJu Smith the past two years. Now the 6-foot-3, 210-pound athlete is ready for his own spotlight, with an Irish visit set for later this month.

Sophomore receiver Taariq Johnson saw limited action last season but showed enough to draw early offers from Baylor and Ohio University, with interest coming from a handful of top programs.

Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder from Augustus Hawkins High School in Los Angeles, has heard from USC, UCLA, Washington and San Jose State. Next weekend he plans to visit Notre Dame.

“We have a 7-on-7 tournament out there in Chicago and we decided to come and make a visit,” Johnson said. “That will be my first time out there.”

Teammates Joseph Lewis and Jalen Hall will join Johnson on the trip to South Bend. Notre Dame has already offered Lewis, a 2017 wide receiver. Hall, a freshman receiver, already holds more than a dozen offers.

For Johnson, the 7-on-7 tournament and other passing events have become an audition of sorts.

He played his freshman and sophomore seasons behind two of the nation’s top players in Iman Marshall and Juju Smith. Both signed with USC, Marshall this past February and Smith a year ago. He scored against Notre Dame last season.

As hard as it was to break into the lineup with two highly rated prospects ahead of him, Johnson wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“It was great being under the wings of those guys and learning from them,” he said. “Being around those guys and practicing with them, Iman Marshall being like the No. 1 cornerback in the nation, getting to practice against that guy every day I got to learn my wide receiver craft against him and then JuJu the year before that. It was a privilege.”

Now Johnson will get his chance to shine. He hopes to do that on the offensive side of the ball.

He plays both receiver and outside linebacker but prefers to catch passes at the next level. College coaches seem to split on that decision.

“They don’t know how my body is going to fill out yet,” Johnson said. “Some schools are looking at me as a linebacker, some as a tight end and some as wide receiver and an overall athlete. They just don’t know what’s going to happen yet.”

Johnson also runs track at Augustus Hawkins.


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