Film Study: Notre Dame WR commit Jordan Johnson

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

WR Jordan Johnson, 6-2, 195; St. Louis DeSmet Jesuit

The numbers: Johnson recorded 28 receptions for 721 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior. DeSmet Jesuit (9-3) fell to Christian Brothers 63-28 in the third round of the Class 6 MSHSAA playoffs.

The rankings: 247Sports — Four stars, No. 10 WR, No. 56 overall. Rivals — Four stars, No. 13 WR, No. 59 overall.


Film link here.

First impression: He’s not as big or strong as Chase Claypool and Miles Boykin, but Johnson possesses the tools of an outside receiver. A wide catch radius and exceptional ball skills makes Johnson a premiere red zone target. The Irish will endure turnover at the boundary receiver spot in the next couple of years. Johnson looks versatile enough to play a couple different positions, though.

Strengths: Johnson looks at least above average in almost every category. Deep routes are where Johnson makes a living, and defenses are unwise to cover him one-on-one. He flashes an innate ability to react quick and catch balls at their highest point or in traffic. Jump balls are rarely 50-50 with Johnson, who has a high vertical leap (39.6 inches), strong hands and solid hand-eye coordination and instincts. Johnson won’t hammer defenders when blocking, but his relentless approach does the trick just as well.

Proof of prowess: (:24) Johnson weaves through traffic, powering his way to make something out of nothing. He evades a tackler after hauling in a screen pass before letting his vision and footwork do the rest … (:45) Johnson’s quick fake opens the cornerback’s hips outward. This provides Johnson the leverage to sneak inside and past his defender … (:59) Johnson’s fluid footwork to begin his route freezes his defender for not even a second. However, it's enough for Johnson to use the outside leverage to his advantage and free himself downfield.

(1:29) Johnson's opposing cornerback attempts bump-and-run coverage, pressing his hands on Johnson early in the route. Johnson uses his strength to fight off the defender’s hands and win inside leverage. To finish the play, Johnson catches the ball at its apex just before being brought to the ground … (2:26) Johnson does not seem to have elite straight-line speed, but he can make the first man miss and rack up yards after the catch. After hearing footsteps while catching the screen pass, Johnson jumps backward to evade the tackle.

(3:04) Johnson’s ability to decelerate might be the best aspect of his route running. He puts on the brakes so sudden that the opposing cornerback loses his balance and falls forward … (3:21) Johnson’s initial contact doesn’t do much, but that doesn’t matter with his tireless approach toward blocking. He continues to drive the defender backward and out of the play.

Competition level: DeSmet plays in the strongest division in Missouri — MSHSAA Class 6. They are also located in the state's ripest recruiting area. All six of Missouri’s four-star recruits (per 247Sports) from the 2019 class were St. Louis area products. On a national scale, DeSmet mostly faces middle-of-the-road competition. For the 2020 class, 247Sports provided a four-star rating to five Missouri players. Johnson ranks second among them. It’s important to note Johnson helped revive a putrid DeSmet squad. The Spartans finished 1-9 (2014), 1-9 (2015), 2-8 (2016) and 1-9 (2017) before their 2018 turnaround.

Left to prove: A run-heavy offense resulted in Johnson’s underwhelming 28 receptions on the season. Johnson’s quarterback averaged fewer than 11 completions per game last year. Johnson eclipsed 50 yards receiving once in DeSmet’s final eight games. More production could move Johnson to five-star territory. Johnson could also benefit from improving his strength and straight-line speed. It looks like Johnson's 40-yard dash time would fall between the 4.5 and 4.6 range.

St. Louis DeSmet Jesuit's Jordan Johnson, a 2020 receiver, committed to Notre Dame on April 6, 2019.