At 6' and 320 lbs. Waxahachie senior Gennard Johnson is hard to miss on the football field, but his domination of opposing linemen hasn't yet translated into college offers.
Gennard Johnson is a one big guy. Rocky Robinson, Waxahachie's defensive line coach, tells me Gennard is 6' and "in the neighborhood of about 320 pounds". I'm a bit more convinced of the latter figure than the former, but despite not having the ideal height for a lineman on either side of the ball, he makes up for it with his powerful lower body strength and better feet than one would expect from a player his size.
As a junior, he was named to the all-district 1st team as an offensive lineman. He played right guard full time, and he played sparingly at defensive tackle early on, but as the season went on and his conditioning improved he spent more time on defense, becoming (in Robinson's words) "a solid interior weapon on short yardage and passing down situations". The defensive coaches plan to have him in the defensive line rotation more than last year, which will disappoint opposing offensive linemen and should give him more defensive plays for his senior highlight film.
Gennard has also competed in powerlifting, advancing to the state meet as a sophomore and to regionals as a junior. At last March's Division 1 Region 3 meet, he lifted 625 lbs. on squat and 340 on bench press, but scratched on the dead lift and did not advance to state. Robinson, who is also Waxahachie's head powerlifting coach, says Gennard's best dead lift is 605. At the 2011 state meet he weighed in at 315, and at the regional meet the following year he weighed 324. His weight might worry some coaches but the fact that he hasn't gained a significant amount of it in the last year and a half is a good sign that he'll be able to maintain it at a certain level. As long as he doesn't make too many trips to his favorite fast food place, Dickey's Barbecue (which I wouldn't consider fast food, but never mind).
Gennard Johnson's junior highlights:
The easiest comp for Gennard Johnson may be Waco's Andrew Billings because of their similarly strong but stocky frames and the fact that both are full-time offensive linemen and part-time defensive tackles. They both have a strong base, but Billings has significantly stronger (and probably longer) arms, is agile enough to play offensive tackle, and has enough short area quickness to execute pulling blocks and to get to the second level and block linebackers and defensive backs.
Johnson is a mauler inside at right guard but doesn't appear to have the same agility. Because of his height his college position would most likely be defensive tackle, and when he plays low his height can actually be an asset. Not easy getting under the pads of a 6' nose guard who squats 625 lbs. As Robinson says, "When he comes off low there are very few who can stop him." That much is quite evident in his highlight film above. He recorded four sacks as a junior, and though he probably wouldn't be a pass rushing threat against college offensive lines, he might find success as the kind of "immovable object" at nose guard who can take on blockers and be a force against an opponent's inside running game. And he could be a real terror if used on offense as a short yardage fullback ala Derek Lokey and Roy Miller.
According to Robinson, Gennard Johnson has a handful of relatives who have played college sports, including defensive backs Tyrus Lacey (Houston) and Darwin Brown (Texas Tech), the latter of whom was a 6th round NFL draft pick after his college career, while the former was also a Waxahachie Indian. Whether or not he becomes the latest member of his family to play college football remains to be seen.
His Prep Force page lists him as having "medium" interest in BYU, Kansas State, and Missouri, but that is the only online mention of his college preferences or interest. He does not currently have a page on Rivals or any of the other big four recruiting sites (Scout, 247Sports, and ESPN's Recruiting Nation). Robinson believes Johnson's favorite schools are Texas and TCU, but he does not have an offer from those or any other school as of yet. If he impresses during his senior year he could pick up some Division 1 offers late in the process, as players with his level of strength aren't found just anywhere. North Texas fans in particular are bound to look at Johnson and have visions of Brandon "Booger" Kennedy, the 5'10" 330+ lbs. defensive tackle who starred for the Mean Green a decade ago and who recorded 61 tackles-for-loss in his collegiate career.
I don't think Johnson is quite that good but he certainly has the potential to be an asset to a D1 defense, and with the small number of legit D1 defensive tackles in the state who are still uncommitted, he could very well find his services in demand a few months from now.
Class 4A Waxahachie began their season with a lopsided loss to Class 5A Midlothian (a team that is currently 4-0), but rebounded to pound a loaded West Mesquite squad 42-0 and convincingly defeat recently-powerful Corsicana 36-12. Several of their remaining opponents feature players who have committed to D1 schools, or who have at least received offers. For anyone interested in watching Gennard Johnson and his Waxahachie Indian teammates, I've posted the remainder of their 2012 schedule below.
September 28 - vs. Mansfield Summit
October 5 - at Lancaster
October 12 - vs. Mansfield Legacy
October 19 - vs. Arlington Seguin
October 26 - at Mansfield Lake Ridge
November 2 - vs. Red Oak
November 9 - at Ennis
Each Wednesday during the Texas high school football regular season, I'll be highlighting senior players who, for whatever reason, lack scholarship offers and/or remain under the radar of most college recruiters. These guys may not be future stars at the FBS level, but I'm a fan of all of them and believe they're good enough to warrant more attention than they have received up to now. Previous Unheralded 2013 Player of the Week picks:
Week Three - Devante Pullum, Athlete (Little Elm)
Week Two - Tyrel Stokes, DB (Killeen Harker Heights)
Week One - Derick Bates, WR (Belton)
Week Zero - Collin Bowen, QB (Canyon Randall)