South Carolina earned a commitment from one of the state of Georgia’s top defensive back recruits Jayden Johnson. Here’s a closer look at the future Gamecock.
When a defensive back possesses the physical tools to play cornerback or safety, it’s rare. When that same defensive back could also be a weapon as a running back or wide receiver, that’s when offensive and defensive coaches argue about which side of the football he will play.
Meet Johnson, the talented do-everything football player from Cedartown, Ga., located northwest of Atlanta, close to the Alabama line. The 6-2, 200-pound athlete plays quarterback, wide receiver, safety and cornerback.
A rangy, twitchy, and smooth athlete, Johnson possesses the frame to be a difference-maker for the Gamecocks. He’s a really big pickup as he will fit in very well with South Carolina’s aggressive defense.
After watching Johnson make play after play, albeit at different positions, it became difficult to project which specific position he will likely play in Columbia. Then again, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp really likes his defensive backs seeing as Muschamp played safety himself.
That does not mean South Carolina offensive coaches will automatically give up on getting the talented Johnson on their side of the football. Let’s take a closer look at the talented Peach State prospect.
This first play shows Johnson’s ability to diagnose the play, avoid the blocker, attack the line of scrimmage, and finish off the running back in the end zone for a safety. That’s not your typical play from a high school cornerback. Johnson’s controlled aggressiveness really stood out, and it resulted in two points for Cedartown.
Watch how smoothly Johnson moved towards the line of scrimmage. He’s a natural athlete that can help South Carolina against power run teams like Georgia and Kentucky. Not to mention, that type of aggressiveness will help against screen passes.
One of the more difficult assignments for a defensive back would be when it’s time to leave the primary receiver. While in zone coverage, Johnson’s primary wide receiver was not the intended target. Johnson coyly baited the quarterback to make the corner throw.
Once the signal began to throw the ball, Johnson raced down the sideline just in front of the intended wide receiver and made a spectacular over the shoulder catch for an interception right before he ran out of the end zone. This level of football IQ, athleticism, and hustle is elite.
When opportunity strikes, a defensive back must capitalize. Johnson, once again playing cornerback, Played man-to-man coverage versus the outside wide receiver, Johnson breaks on the football, and low and behold it’s just a little bit off the mark towards the inside of the field.
Johnson picked it off and immediately began running towards his team’s end zone. From the outset of the play, Johnson read the wide receiver and quarterback. As soon as the wide receiver broke to the outside, Johnson flipped his hips and made a break on the football. Like before, that’s instinct, athleticism, and effort.
This last play shows once again that Johnson likes contact and anticipates quite well. He’s responsible for protecting the edge, as there’s no wide receiver to his side of the formation. When it’s a sweep to his side, Johnson does not hesitate to drive towards the line of scrimmage, break down, and make a tackle for loss.
This type of play means that Johnson would be at home as a cornerback, nickel, or even safety. Considering his coverage skills, it’s a good bet that this young man ends up playing different spots in South Carolina’s secondary, depending on the opponent.
Overall, Johnson provides many attributes to make him a highly successful SEC defensive back. He’s long, he’s rangy, smooth running motion, and he’s physical. Perhaps most importantly, Johnson’s football IQ proved to be very good.
Johnson’s commitment is a score for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Now let the coaches fight it out to see which side of the football he ultimately plays.