Location:Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian
Weight: 210 pounds
Recruiting: Although just a rising junior, Johnson decided to shut things down early when he committed to UCLA last week. He was also holding offers from Utah, Washington and Washington State but UCLA LB coach Scott White put in a lot of work and developed a strong relationship with Johnson. Early commitments rarely mean a lot these days but with Johnson, this one looks very solid. Johnson wanted to stay local, likes UCLA’s academics and said the fit in the Bruins defense were all big reasons why he chose the Bruins.
What to Like: Johnson has a ton of physical upside and has a college body right now. He shows the versatility to play multiple positions in college including outside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver or tight end. At receiver, Johnson runs well, shows solid hands and uses his size well. We like him better as a prospect on defense and he was recruited to play linebacker for UCLA. He’s a natural fit as a pass rushing outside ‘backer and should have no problem gaining another 25-30 pounds in the next few years. He shows the necessary physicality and aggressiveness to be a potential impact player and his best days are definitely ahead of him.
Areas to improve: Up to this point in his development, Johnson shows more potential than on field production. Someone with Johnson’s size and athleticism should be able to dominate on the field and we have yet to see that from him. It’s still early of course and he has two years of HS ball still to play so it’s not a major concern. Johnson currently plays safety for Salesian and hasn’t had a lot of experience playing linebacker, his college position. As he continues to fill out, we expect he’ll make the move to linebacker by his senior season at the latest but for now, it’s a complete projection trying to figure out just what kind of college player he’ll be.
Overall Analysis: Locking up a player with the upside of Johnson was big for UCLA. It comes at a time when the Bruins were pretty stagnant on the recruiting front and not generating a lot of buzz. They needed a shot in the arm and Johnson is a player we think could really blow up in the next year. The class of 2017 out west also looks very weak at the linebacker position so landing a player like Johnson early means UCLA can now go national if they choose and don’t need to reach on a player they’re not in love with. Johnson needs to continue to work hard on his game and develop as a linebacker but he’s a player with a very high ceiling and definitely worth taking this early in the process.