Michigan WR commit Nate Johnson ready for Notre Dame visit

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame didn’t need much time to get Nate Johnson interested in the Irish.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound wide receiver recruit received a Notre Dame offer Saturday. He will make an official visit to campus this weekend.

“When they offered, I knew I was going to take the official (visit) so I scheduled it,” Johnson said. “I want to compare them to Michigan.”

Not long ago, Michigan took over Johnson’s recruitment in a hurry. He received an offer from the Wolverines on Dec. 9. Three days later he committed during an official visit in Ann Arbor.

Johnson remains committed, but he’s still weighing his options. The suddenly coveted recruit doesn’t want to make a mistake with his college choice. He also visited Miami last weekend.

“I’m still solid, but I’m comparing the Notre Dame visit,” Johnson said. “I want to see that. I want to make sure I’m making the right decision. I know right now I feel like I’ve made the right decision.”

Johnson caught the eyes of college coaching staffs with a prolific senior season. He hauled in 87 passes for 1,713 yards and 27 touchdowns in a state championship year for Thompson’s Station (Tenn.) Independence. South Carolina, Penn State, Tennessee, Michigan and Virginia Tech all extended Johnson scholarship offers since late November.

247Sports slates Johnson as a four-star recruit and the No. 37 wide receiver in the 2016 class. Rivals rates him as a three-star prospect and No. 98 at the position.

Speed is Johnson’s greatest asset. He reportedly runs a 40-yard dash in the 4.4-4.5 second range. According to Johnson, he’s drawn comparisons to Will Fuller from the Irish coaching staff.

“They highlighted the fact that I play like Will Fuller,” Johnson said. “Them saying that was kind of big.”

The rest of Johnson’s thoughts about Notre Dame are mostly cursory. He said he didn’t watch the Irish play much last season and doesn’t have a strong relationship with any of the Notre Dame coaches.

Running backs coach Autry Denson has been in contact with Johnson the most since recruiting coordinator Mike Elston extended him the offer.

“We’re still building on it and talking day to day,” Johnson said of his relationship with Denson. “He’s checking in every now and then.”

The late interest from the Irish has prevented him from feeling too certain about anything. He’s coming to campus with an open mind.

“I just want to learn more about the university, the coaches and players,” Johnson said.

Michigan had a month’s head start on building a connection with Johnson.  Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is scheduled to make an in-home visit with Johnson next Thursday. No word on if Harbaugh will climb a tree, attend class, spend the night or watch Netflix — just some of the gimmicks Harbaugh has used during the recruiting contact period — with Johnson. Sometimes thinking differently makes an impact with recruits.

“Building a relationship is definitely a good part of recruiting,” Johnson said. “You want coaches to build a relationship with their athletes and be able to relate to them.”

Michigan made the first impression. Then Miami impressed. Now Notre Dame will state its best case when Johnson arrives Friday.

“It was a great visit to a great institution,” Johnson said of the Miami visit. “I’m probably just going to make my final decision on signing day. Everything was great down there. I have to talk it over with my family comparing some things and go from there.”

No Morris

The burgeoning recruitment of Jonah Morris ended before he even visited Notre Dame.

Morris, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound athlete, will no longer make an official visit to South Bend this weekend as previously planned. The entire outlook on his recruitment appears to have changed.

The senior from Akron (Ohio) Archbishop Hoban announced a top four of Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Michigan State earlier this month. But on Monday, Morris backtracked on that announcement.

“I don't have a top 4 anymore, and probably won't sign on signing day,” Morris wrote on Twitter. “Need some more time to see what's really best for me.”

Different schools appear to be making a push for Morris now. Both Rutgers and Indiana have made in-home visits in the past week with the former Michigan State commit.

Notre Dame’s standing with higher-rated recruits could have led to the change with Morris and the Irish. Morris did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Morris, a three-star prospect, could play wide receiver, linebacker or safety in college. Rivals ranks him as the No. 43 athlete in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him as the No. 45 athlete.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Michigan wide receiver commit Nate Johnson, a senior, reported a Notre Dame offer on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)