The state of California regularly produces some of the top high school football talent in the entire country. Collin Johnson is one such talent out of San Jose, California. The big wide receiver received interest from many of the top college programs across the country. According to 247Sports, Johnson was a four-star recruit, and the forty-fourth ranked wide receiver in the nation. Tearing his labrum his senior season and missing all but two games likely lowered Johnson’s ranking. Johnson finished his high school career totaling 1,176 yards on 67 receptions with 16 touchdowns. The vast majority of his production stemmed from his junior year in which he made 49 catches for 921 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. Johnson became accustomed to being the focal point of an offense as his team’s second leading receiver only made 7 catches that season.
While Johnson had suitors all across the country, it was unlikely he was going anywhere other than the University of Texas. Johnson’s older brother, Kirk, is currently a running back on the Longhorn’s roster. Johnnie Johnson, Collin’s father, is in the College Football Hall of Fame as a defensive back with the Longhorn’s after an outstanding playing career from 1976-1979. Collin Johnson is just nineteen years old. But he carries himself like an older, more mature player than many players his age. Former UT Offensive Coordinator, Sterlin Gilbert, had this to say last season about the early enrollee:
“His work ethic is second to none. He’s a guy that has a high football IQ as well and wants to be really good. Those things jump out at me instantly.”
Johnson was a freshman in 2016 and finished the season with 28 catches on 49 targets, 315 yards (57% catch rate – 11.3 yards per catch) and three touchdowns. He only started one game, but he came on strong at the end of the season becoming one of Shane Buechele’s favorite targets. He was targeted 29 times in November, making 15 catches and scoring all three of his touchdowns in those four games. Listed at 6’6” and two hundred twelve pounds, Johnson is a matchup nightmare. In the below clip, Johnson shows the ability to use his length to score against Texas Tech.
He runs a good route, shows the ability to track the ball over his shoulder and displays very nice body control to make a difficult catch. He shows similar ability again against Texas Tech in the below clip.
Here is a slowed down look at the impressive, contested catch.
— UT Sports Video (@40AcresFilms) November 6, 2016
While watching Johnson’s high school film, he consistently showed the ability to make similar acrobatic catches. His ability to high point the football is elite as he shows great body control and very strong hands. Standing 6’6” it would be easy to assume he is primarily a red zone threat but he displays surprising agility and ability to create yards after the catch.
In Texas’ most recent Spring Scrimmage, Johnson showed signs he is poised for a breakout season. He made eight catches for 117 yards and scored two touchdowns. The three clips below further highlight his ability to create after the catch and haul in just about anything thrown in his general vicinity.
Johnson appears to have good speed for a player of his size. He is incredibly nimble and can finish plays either by making defenders miss or by just overpowering them. In the below clip, he shows he can use his size to plow through smaller defensive backs and pick up an additional five yards and a first down.
While I see a lot of intriguing traits in Johnson’s game, he is still raw in some areas. The two main areas of opportunity I see in his game are improving route running and eliminating body catches. As we see with many big wide receivers in high school and early on in their collegiate careers, they often run just a few routes. Due to being able to rely on their superior size and athleticism there isn’t the need to run a complex route tree. In watching Johnson, he shows the ability to run a variety of routes, but they didn’t appear to consistently be sharp.
The other area I believe he will need to clean up is catching the ball with his hands and not letting the ball get in on him. I don’t have any evidence that leads me to believe he has been plagued by drop issues, but that is something I will be watching moving forward.
The good news for Johnson is he has tons of upside. I believe his ceiling is as high as any receiver in the country. The Longhorn’s have installed a new offense in 2017 with more of an emphasis on passing. True sophomore Shane Buechele gained valuable game reps in his freshman season, and I think that Johnson is going to thrive this year. He appears to be a mature, high character individual that loves playing football.
In a recent Devy Draft, I took Johnson as my WR3 in the third round. There are many varying opinions of Johnson as a prospect, but I am extremely excited about his potential and to see him grow into what I believe will be an NFL WR1. Below is a clip of Johnson on the beach that also paints the perfect picture of what I did in my living room after selecting him in my draft.
— College Football + (@CFBPlus) May 24, 2017