It seems California Memorial Stadium is the destination of choice for wide receiver talent as the Bear Raid continues to prove itself as a formidable offensive scheme. Athlete Taariq Johnson is a terror in the air, but based on his physical specs alone can be a threat on both sides of the ball. Here are his ratings from the major recruiting services.
Rivals: 4 stars
24/7 Scout: 4 stars, 38th at his position, 32nd in his state
At 6’2”, 213lbs, Taariq is a big kid. Neither of those numbers is anything to gawk at on their own, but together, that’s pretty frightening. Combine that with a 4.7-second forty and the fact that he has a whole season of high school football left to play, and we have a veritable goldmine of potential.
Let’s go to the tape:
· Because of the horrible camera angle of the first play (1:30 is the same play), we can’t see anything about Taariq’s movement off the line or his route running. However, he is obviously very comfortable tracking the ball through the air and adjusts well to rope in an over-the-shoulder catch. He does the same at 0:20 (0:28 is the same play) under considerably more pressure and again seems very comfortable making that catch.
· Much of me doubts that he’ll be lining up at tight end like he does at 0:46, but it is a good insight into his versatility.
· At 0:52 we get a short look at his ball carrying and ability to get yards after contact. His 4.7-second forty isn’t exactly incendiary and he lacks the balance of more fleet-footed players, but his size can get him the few extra yards he need in certain situations.
· Despite what I just said, he does possess the ability to beat defenders on the straightaway like at 2:03. The margin of separation here is pretty stark.
· At 2:15, 4:24, and 4:28 we get a glimpse at his blocking ability, which is fairly solid. A receiver with his size should be making those blocks well and it’s reassuring to see that he can.
· The defense’s inability to take him down at 3:00 is also another testament to his impressive size and strength.
· Overall, Taariq is a solid physical player with room for growth. He has great ball-tracking skills and a good pair of hands that make difficult over-the-shoulder catches seem routine. His speed and quickness aren’t anything to write home about, but are impressive considering his size. He has the potential to take his game in any one of several directions. By focusing on his speed he can make himself a very real outside threat while focusing on his strength can solidify him as more of an inside target and also help position him on the defensive side of the ball. In any case, it’s not hard to picture him making an impact on the program when he rolls onto campus in fall 2017. Welcome to the family Taariq, and Go Bears!