Will Johnson, a speedy cornerback from Chattahoochee High School, is one of the state’s hottest senior prospects.
College scouts are still learning about Johnson, who is a former basketball point guard playing only his second year of football. He first caught the attention of recruiters after being clocked at 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Vanderbilt camp this summer, and has followed it up with a breakout senior season as the most dominating player for Chattahoochee, the defending Class AAAA state champions.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Johnson will be one of the featured prospects when Chattahoochee plays at South Forsyth at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The game will be broadcast live on WSB-TV’s digital channel 2.2 and on www.wsbtv.com.
“I’ve been fortunate over the years at Chattahoochee and as an assistant at Tucker, Camden County and Burke County to have I think over 30 D1 defensive backs, and Will Johnson is just as good as any of them,” Chattahoochee coach Terry Crowder said. “It’s just his speed and the way he’s coachable. He’s just a very dominant player.”
Both Georgia Tech and UGA have expressed interest in Johnson, who currently holds scholarship offers from Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Kentucky, according to Crowder.
What about Georgia Tech? “I just talked with [assistant Lamar Owens] the other night. He wants me to come meet the DB coach there. After the season, when it’s time to take official visits, he wants me to take an official visit to Georgia Tech and I told him that I would. It would be great to get an offer from Georgia Tech. They play in a good conference, you can get a top education there, and it’s only 45 minutes from home.”
Johnson said he was scouted by UGA DB coach Scott Lakatos earlier this season. “[Lakatos] is really impressed with my speed, and said a lot of nice things. He told me that Georgia was going to sign only one DB at first, and now they are going to take two. I’m pretty sure I’m in the mix. We’ll see.”
Signing another DB or two is a priority for both UGA and Georgia Tech. UGA has 15 commitments for 2012, and none are DBs. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech has 11 commitments, with only Antonio Crawford of Tampa probably getting a look at DB.
Johnson was a little late in showing up on recruiting radars because he focused on basketball only as a point guard during his freshman and sophomore years at Northview High School. After transferring to Chattahoochee, he switched his concentration to football.
This year, Johnson starts both ways, and has 25 receptions for 554 yards and 6 touchdowns at wide receiver, along with four carries for 99 yards and one touchdown. At cornerback, Johnson doesn’t have many stats simply because teams rarely throw in his direction.
Johnson has a 3.3 GPA and plans to major in Business and minor in Law. Johnson is also a year ahead in school, only turning 17 years old last week. When he moved from New York to Atlanta in grade school, he tested well enough to be placed a year ahead of his age group.
RELATED: Every year, there are 4-5 seniors that make you ask “How does this kid not have double or three times as many scholarship offers?” Former Miller Grove wide receiver Stephen Hill (now at Georgia Tech) was one a few years ago, as is Heritage High School senior Ryan Watson this season. He’s a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder who starts at defensive end, but also plays some tight end and running back. He has a 3.3 GPA and 1,140 SAT score, with early offers from Georgia State, Air Force and Presbyterian. “Indiana hasn’t offered but they are bringing him up for an official visit next month,” Heritage coach Chad Frazier said. “Indiana has flown down here to see him play twice, and I think they may offer when he goes up there for a visit. We’ll see what happens.” Watson is a mismatch for most offensive tackles with his power and strength, along with his speed off the edge (timed at 4.6 in the 40 at UGA camp). He has the grades. He also plays his best in Heritage’s biggest games, registering three sacks in last week’s loss to Flowery Branch. For the season, Watson has 70 tackles, including 18 tackles for losses and 9 sacks. He also could play multiple positions in college. Having seen Watson play both in person and on film, I’d say he’s definitely one of the state’s most overlooked seniors.