Name: Marcus Johnson
Position: Wide receiver
Speed: 4.41 40-yard dash
High School: League City Clear Springs
Rating (Rivals): Three out of five (5.7)
Following his junior season, Johnson was a player who wasn't on the Texas radar. After performing well at several summer camps, the Houston-area wide receiver committed to Texas Tech. Like many prospects looking around, Johnson claimed that he was "100% committed" to the Red Raiders in September, but was proactive reaching out to the Texas staff to express his interest during a monster senior season that significantly increased his stock. In 2011, Johnson caught 63 passes for 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns, as well as adding 352 rushing yards on 30 rushes and a touchdown.
When it appeared that interest from the Longhorns waned a bit, Johnson committed to Texas A&M around Thanksgiving on a visit. But defections from the Texas receiving corps, tably that of Darius White, opened up more spots in the class and Johnson received his offer from the Longhorns just before the banquet weekend in early December and committed the following day, calling Texas his "dream school."
I sat down and thought about it and I know this will be my very last decision. I'm not going anywhere else. I have always loved Texas. Through all of it I found some place where my heart was fully into it. I think the A&M situation, my heart wasn't in it. I had to make the right decision for myself, and that was to go to my dream school.
Johnson on how his hard work paid off ($) and the tough decisions he made:
There was a time, I never even thought this was possible. It's been a roller coaster. I hate the fact that my recruiting went the way it did. My intentions weren't bad as far as decommitting, but when it happened (with Texas), I hadn't felt like that way at all.
People actually say live your dreams, and that's one thing I've been able to accomplish, to see my family 's face, how happy they are, how proud they are. Texas is a program we've always loved. It's an honor to have this opportunity and I'm going to do everything I can to contribute to the school and bring everything I have to the team.
More from his father on why his son de-committed ($):
At the time, when Marcus made his decision to go forward with the A&M offer, he thought there wasn't a chance that UT was going to offer him. But after UT made their offer, he realized that all his hopes and dreams had finally come true and it was just an opportunity he couldn't refuse. Texas just feels right for him, he feels it will be the perfect situation for him to grow as a person, as a man and as a football player.
Marcus has tremendous respect for both Texas Tech and Texas A&M. He did not take the scholarship offers from those schools lightly. But when Texas decided to make him an offer, he just could not go against everything he's wanted and wished for ever since he was a child. It was a huge decision, but in the end, after talking to his coaches and us, his parents, we told him he had to be comfortable with his decision. From that point, he decided to roll with the Longhorns. He's extremely excited about his decision and we're very proud of him.
- Texas (committed 12/9/2011)
- Air Force
- Texas A&M
- Texas Tech
- Wake Forest
- West Virginia
Marcus Johnson Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
As far as what Johnson could, and probably will, bring to the Texas recruiting class, in many ways his skillset is similar to Kendall Sanders. Both are about the size typical for flankers, with elite or near-elite ability to make defenders miss in a phone booth and long strides that still somehow allow both to reach top speed in a flash.
Even more impressive than his speed and elusiveness is his body control, which allows him to make an incredible number of catches along the sideline for a high school player. In fact, in several years of watching highlights, I'm not sure that I've ever seen someone who not only has that developed of any ability to bring in those throws, but also does it so consistently.
So even though Sanders and Johnson look pretty similar, the thought here is that Johnson is a better deep and intermediate threat than Sanders, who could quickly become effective at Texas if he sticks on offense on end arounds or jet sweeps and in the wide receiver screen game.
ESPN evaluation ($):
Johnson is a pretty savvy receiver that can be very difficult to gauge for DBs due to his size and deceptive speed, quickness and sneaky second gear. He has good size and is a good looking athlete. Has quick feet and coordinated body control. Comes off the ball at about 3/4 speed and will lull defenders to sleep and then show impressive burst and acceleration especially on vertical routes. He is a much more natural and gifted deep route runner that he is underneath. Stems and weaves defenders and will attack alignment as well as eat up cushion prior to the break. Shows sideline awareness and the size and long arms to adjust to balls thrown high and behind him. Will make impressive catches in contested match-ups along the sideline. Shows a wide catch radius to adjust to poorly thrown balls. He is deceptive and quick for his size after the catch. Shows enough elusiveness to make the first defender miss, get upfield and gain valuable positive yards. Shows some shake and also strength to ward off tacklers in the open field. His size and frame development should allow for him to become a quality go-to receiver in the red area. We do not believe Johnson is a burner, but rather a guy that can change gears. Knows how to use his size. He needs polish and refinement as a route runner on patterns that require sharp cuts, stop/start agility and breaking off sharply once at full speed. There is upside with Johnson and we feel he has BCS potential in time as an inside or outside wide receiver.
While the ESPN evaluation notes that Johnson isn't a burner, that may be somewhat of a misnomer. It is true that Johnson doesn't have truly elite speed, but to run a legit 4.51 is impressive -- consider that fellow commit Johnathan Gray was not able to best that time at The Opening. The 4.41 time listed above is a report from the Texas A&M summer camp.
For wide receivers, the ability to get in and out of breaks and makes defenders miss using first-step explosiveness and lateral quickness is as important, or perhaps more important, than pure, straight-line speed. Note, for instance, that Wes Welker has never been the fastest player vertically, but is quick and elusive. Johnson didn't post the best shuttle time -- 4.41 -- but does appear more agile than that on film in the open field or in the wide receiver screen game, which may explain why he reportedly ran a 4.11 shuttle at the same Aggie camp he posted his 4.41 40.
When watching film on Johnson, the most impressive aspect of his game may be his ability to make catches along the sideline. As noted above from the evaluation prior to his commitment, it's extremely rare to see a high school player put as many tough sideline grabs on film as Johnson. It's a testament to his body control, ability to adjust to the football, and his strong hands to allow him to make catches outside the framework of his body.
It says a lot about Johnson that he worked hard throughout high school to improve both his athleticism and his understanding of the wide receiver position. He still does need some work on his precision, but when he gets to Texas, he will be a more refined route runner than most prospects who enter the program and has already shown the ability to reap the rewards of his hard work.
If there's a major question with Johnson, it's how much room he still has left to grow. There's certainly room on his frame to grow, but the more important consideration is how much upside he still has left to uncover. The answer to that will ultimately determine whether he becomes a solid contributor or whether he has the chance to grow into an all-conference type of flanker.