Gerard Martinez |

Jaylon Johnson got open by shutting down wide outs Sunday

Central East cornerback Jaylon Johnson had a Nike Rating of 132.42 Sunday, highest among all defensive backs tested this year. He also then won the fastest man competition with a time of 4.49 in the 40-yard dash.

Fresno (Calif.) cornerback Jaylon Johnson performed at The Opening Regional in Richmond (Calif.) Sunday like he had something prove. 

Perhaps he did. 

“I just wanted to prove I can play with the best and that I am one of the best athletes in the country,” said Johnson. “I wanted to show my skills and talents. 

Johnson had an up and down performance at the Pro Way Passing Tournament in April, raising questions about his true position in the defensive backfield. At 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, Johnson could very easily play safety. 

Sunday, he showed that he can also be a shutdown cornerback. 

“I wanted to show my feet and my hips,” said Johnson. “I’m longer, and defensive backs my size have a hard time moving their feet and opening their hips. I definitely showed some people I can move my feet and open my hips.”

Johnson not only won defensive back MVP, but he earned an invitation to The Opening Finals in Beaverton (Ore.) at NIKE World Headquarters. 

“This means you’re the best,” said Johnson. “It means you’re among the best players who go to high D-I programs. 

“I’ve watched growing up the guys going to Florida, Miami… those types of schools. It means a lot and it’s an honor to go.”

Johnson holds 11 scholarship offers at present date, but with his performance Sunday, he is bound to see additional college options arise. This month, he has seen colleges from all over the country stop by East Central High School. 

The hectic process of May Evaluations has been relatively smooth having seen his older brother Johnny -- a redshirt junior at UCLA -- go through it four years ago. 

“It hasn’t been a big deal,” said Johnson. “The information has just transferred from my brother to me. I have been thankful for the attention though. I’ve had Alabama, USC, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State all come through in the past two weeks. 

“For me, I try to just listen to what the coaches are telling me. You can see man-to-man how a coach talks to you — how he looks you in the eye. That part of it is definitely different. I get to talk face-to-face with them instead of just over the phone.”

USC defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford visited East Central two weeks ago. After that, area recruiter John Baxter visited the school to see Johnson. 

“With Coach Bradford, we don’t always talk football,” said Johnson. “We talk about life and different situations that come up. 

“We talk about how we’re doing just as people. It’s not all about schemes and football, so it’s nice to switch it up.”

USC has been a mainstay in Johnson recruitment, with Bradford being one of the coaches he speaks to most often. Having unofficially visited USC and seen the coaches at his own school, Johnson remains very interested in the Trojans.

“After being there, they really welcomed me with open arms,” said Johnson. “It felt real genuine to be around the coaches and players. USC also puts a lot of people in the NFL and I feel like I can be the next one that can do that.”

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