2021 LSU Recruit Malcolm Johnson Jr. in Research Mode While He’s Forced to Wait on College Visits

Glen West

When 2021 recruits Malcolm Johnson Jr. and Caleb Williams were younger, not only did they share the same field, but they were on the same team. At the time, Williams was a running back while Johnson lined up at receiver and the two developed a friendship that has lasted throughout their recruitment processes. 

Williams, of course, has become one of the top players in the country at quarterback while Johnson has turned himself into a highly coveted receiver out of the Washington D.C. area. The two have stayed in touch and talked about the possibility of teaming up one day.

"I think with both of us, we're going to make the best decision that's right for our families," Johnson said. "We're really not going to force anything so if it happens great but if it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be."

Johnson recently dropped a top eight that included LSU, Georgia, Maryland, Texas, USC, Florida, Auburn and Alabama. The Bryans Road, Maryland native says he's pretty much in the same boat with all of his top schools and doesn't have a firm commitment date planned BC at this time.

Most of the main offensive minds at LSU have spent time talking with Johnson in recent months, with a week never passing without some kind of check in. Between coach Ed Orgeron, passing game coordinator Scott Linehan and wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph, the interest is strong from the Tigers.

"Coach Mickey likes the speed I could bring to the offense," Johnson said. "We all know that the offense is very explosive and we saw that last year so that speed could definitely help a lot. I think I'm very versatile. I'm a little bit taller and I still have the capability of breaking it long so I think that's a real big component of my game and that's what they see."

When talking with Orgeron himself, Johnson says the conversations get very energetic as the LSU coach expresses how much he'd love to see Johnson in purple and gold. Because he has yet to visit Baton Rouge, something he was originally scheduled to do this month, Johnson would like to hold off on a commitment until he does so.

In fact, Johnson is in a position all too familiar with the 2021 class as he hasn't been able to step foot on most of the campuses in his top-eight.

"It's made things extremely difficult, now I have to do more thorough research about the schools and kind of get a good feel from that," Johnson said. "Hopefully everything will open up to where I can visit but right now I'm just taking it one step at a time."

Most of the research done by Johnson as it pertains to the Tigers is into the offense and the rich history the program has built developing and producing elite receivers. 

In the meantime, Johnson is working on the things that are in his control, like staying in shape for his upcoming senior season. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound receiver says his workout regimen hasn't changed since the quarantine which has helped him stay sharp. 

Some of his areas of focus have been flexibility in his hips and learning to stay low when getting in and out of his route breaks.

"I'll lift four days a week and then go to the field and catch some balls and do footwork," Johnson said. "On the weekends, I'll do speed work so I'm pretty much working out like I'd normally be working out. Learning how to control my speed is something I've been working on, knowing when to use it and when to switch the pace on my routes.

"To be honest, none of my skills are completely polished and I don't think I'm anywhere close to where I imagine myself being, which is really dangerous."

Instead of just watching one receiver, Johnson prefers to watch multiple players in order to get a better understanding of what and how he needs to improve. Though a final decision doesn't seem to be on the horizon for Johnson, the Tigers are firmly in his thoughts, mainly because of the coaching and the culture.

"It would be extraordinary, LSU's culture is extremely strong," Johnson said. "It would be an amazing experience if I were to one day play there but would like to get that first hand knowledge as well."