Gerard Martinez |

Local schools getting early start with 2020 Johnny Wilson

Just a freshman, wide receiver Johnny Wilson has already made an impact and is drawing the attention of colleges. He discusses his upcoming summer plans as well as his spring visit to USC.

Playing on a Calabasas (Calif.) team that featured four-star quarterback Tristan Gebbia throwing to five-star cornerback Darnay Holmes, four-star receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and 2018 four stars Bookie Radley-Hiles and Nikko Hall, it wouldn’t be hard for a younger receiver to be overlooked. Gebbia threw for more than 5,000 yards with each of the aforementioned catching at least 48 passes for at least 800 yards and double-digit touchdowns.

But even with all the talent the Coyotes' offense featured, a freshman still made his mark. Class of 2020 wideout Johnny Wilson was second on the team with 58 catches and third with 855 yards, He and Holmes led the team with 14 touchdowns each.

Already approaching 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Wilson is expected to be one of the nation’s best in the 2020 class and has quickly amassed an offer list fitting for one of the top freshmen in the country. He has early scholarship offers from local schools USC and UCLA as well as Fresno State, Nebraska and Oregon.

He is also the prized target at Calabasas for college coaches making the rounds for May evaluations. Gebbia, Holmes and Johnson are already enrolled in college while Radley-Hiles jumped to IMG Academy in Florida. Calabasas has a Scout 300 defender in four-star outside linebacker in Reggie Hughes and three-star lineman Mykee Irving. It also added 2019 receiver Mycah Pittman to the mix this semester after he transferred from Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian, but Wilson remains the top player that college coaches want to catch a glimpse of when they stop by for spring practice.

“So far we’ve had Arizona, Stanford, Purdue, Michigan State, USC, TCU. Illinois came by also,” Wilson said of the schools that have visited during the spring evaluation period even before the Coyotes began their spring practice schedule this week. “Mainly what I want to show the coaches is that I have speed with my size and I know how to run crisp routes.”

Wilson got to see all of his older teammates go through the recruiting process last season. Now, it’s his turn and he’s fortunate to have an understanding of how recruiting works, which has allowed him to get an early start as he works to determine what are the important factors he is looking for in his collegiate home.

“I really like how some of the schools treat their players,” Wilson said. “They take them in as family pretty much and get really close with the players. I like having a lot of helpful people in the class of recruits. We got to see a couple of classes on trips and I just like it when some of the schools all of the students come together.”

The talented wideout also mentioned academic support and the relationship with his position coach and head coach as other aspects that will play an important role. That’s something he’s hoping to learn about USC in the future. Earlier this spring, he attended a practice at the Coliseum with his seven-on-seven team.

“We got to see all the facilities, walked around the campus and stuff, got to talk to all the coaches. Then we went down to the Coliseum and got to watch them practice. It was a good experience.”

“I haven’t been by recently, but I definitely want to go back soon,” Wilson said. “I just love the campus. I love the community. I like the people around it like the players on the football team are amazing, so that’s really what I like.”

Gerard Martinez |

He’s hoping to learn more about the coaching staff and get a better vibe of both offensive coordinator Tee Martin, who has been his primary recruiter for the Trojans, and head coach Clay Helton.

“I want to get to know Coach Helton like really well. I want to become close with him and also my position coach. Pretty much all I was looking for was how they treat the players pretty much,” Wilson said of his visit to practice. “How they speak with them and stuff. What they’re doing in drills and stuff. I really just took a lot of what he was showing them and applied it to my game.”

USC isn’t the only school the freshman is getting to know. He plans to visit Nebraska where he will be reunited with Johnson and Gebbia. He wants to travel up to Oregon to learn more about new head coach Willie Taggart and he plans to make the rounds of the in-state schools for summer camps.

“I want to go to the UCLA camp definitely and to USC,” Wilson said. “I’ll be at pretty much all the camps in California pretty much.”

Despite being ahead of the curve for his class with the early offers and visits, Wilson doesn’t want to rush into any decision.

“I don’t want to do anything too early because I still want to enjoy the recruiting process.”

USC recruiting analyst Gerard Martinez contributed to this story.

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