"Buena Park (Calif.) four-star Taariq Johnson catches it over the middle and is a man caught in the middle.
"Johnson is fully capable of playing tight end or wide receiver at the high school level. But where does his skill set translate best at the next level? Johnson believes either.
"Currently rated as the No. 11 tight end, he thinks he could add weight and play with his hand on the ground and be used to split out wide and give linebackers matchup problems. He also has the athleticism to be used on the outside at receiver where his ability to go up and catch the ball with his 6-foot-3 frame plays up.
"I consider myself a little bit of both,” Johnson said. “Big body, athletic. It's a rarity these days. If I can do both and excel at both, I'll just call myself that.”
Johnson said colleges that have contacted him have discussed both positions as well as playing H-back. For him, it doesn’t matter where schools want him because he is a “straight athlete on one side of the ball.” Whatever fits best is where he what position he wants to be.
To prepare for his many roles, Johnson said he pays particular attention to the scheme and asks a lot of questions: “What's the right depth? Where should I cut at? What's the smartest thing I can do in my route to make me get open?” Focusing on the little things, helps him get open and have success regardless of what position his route starts.
Playing on the talented B2G Five-Star Blue 7-on-7 squad over the weekend, Johnson showed what he can do in one-on-one situations, dominating the middle of the field when playing in the slot as neither linebackers or safeties could stop him. That has put him in the middle of a lot of attention from college coaches looking for the next mismatch to implement in their offense.
“As of recently, there's been a flow of offers coming in,” Johnson said. “A lot of Pac-12s are starting to hop on.”
Johnson was offered most recently by Arizona on Friday and also holds offers from Cal, Colorado, Washington and Arizona State. But West Coast schools aren’t the only ones interested. Nebraska offered a scholarship last week to go along with Big 10 schools Maryland and Michigan. He’s also got scholarship opportunities at Notre Dame, Miami and Baylor.
While he doesn’t yet hold a scholarship offer from USC or UCLA, the local Los Angeles schools have been talking to him and could be the next to offer. Johnson said he’ll be attending the Trojans’ Junior Day and is looking forward to meeting with the coaches.
“As far as position goes, it's still up in the air. What the plan is is still up in the air. I guess we'll find out on that Junior Day when we start to talk. I'll sit down and get some information and get things going.”
The fact that USC is right down the street is a definite draw for Johnson.
“It's local and it's a very prestigious program really close to home. It's right here in our backyard. I know a lot of players that go to USC because we're all L.A. and we all know each other, so it's very close to home.”
Check out his recent 7-on-7 highlights: