Football content in April? Yes please!
With spring practices behind us and a long way to go until fall and the upcoming season, we are all itching for Cal Bears football. We know a lot about our team at this point. We know we will have a truly great defense, and our offense is full of question marks but should be a significant weakness once again barring any huge improvements.
What we don’t know about are some of the incoming recruits that we didn’t get to see in the spring. For that reason, we will try to cover all of these players to give you all an idea of what to expect for this season and beyond in their respective Cal careers.
Johnson is a 6’4”, 270 pound interior lineman from Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona. He is rated as a 4-star recruit by Rivals and 247Sports, while being listed as a 3-star by ESPN and the 247Sports composite rankings.
Johnson was first offered by Cal in March of 2018. He committed soon after on April 15th, and took an official visit in December. He then signed his letter of intent on December 19th. Despite the early commitment, Cal needed to hold off a strong late push from Arizona State in order to keep him.
Johnson rates pretty well athletically, as his official numbers from May 2018 have him with a 4.86 40-yard dash, 4.57 20-yard shuttle, and a 29.6” vertical jump. The latter two numbers are extremely solid, especially for a incoming college freshman, but his 40 time is simply elite. To put it in perspective, his 4.86 would have ranked 6th at the 2019 NFL combine among defensive linemen. Who was 5th? None other than Alabama star Quinnen Williams, who ran a 4.83. So basically, we should all expect for Johnson to develop into a top-5 draft pick by the end of his Cal career.
Additionally, he should be ready to play right away. 247Sports wrote an article called the All-22 Impact Team where they highlighted incoming recruits around the country that could find significant playing time early on. They listed Johnson under the “Also Watch Out For” section. He will certainly have a path to playing time as well, as one of our few graduates on defense was starting nose guard Chris Palmer. He will compete with Siulagisipai Fuimaono and Aaron Maldonado for playing time at that spot for the upcoming season.
There is only so much than you can really find out about a player from his high school film, but Johnson’s is pretty fun to watch (I encourage you to take six minutes if you want to truly get excited about him). The biggest thing that stands out to me is his speed. It tests well, but it also shows up in games. He could be a force in stopping the run if he develops adequate strength as he will have no problem catching up to running backs should he break free from his blocks. He also should be a factor in terms of pass rushing. Again, his speed is valuable here. At the high school level, he has the strength to overpower his blocker and quickly get to the quarterback.
The speed should have no problem transferring over to the college level, but the thing to watch is his strength. At the high school level, he was able to dominate his blockers as he was stronger than all of them, as he should be being a top-level recruit. However, this will not be the case at the college level. He will likely want to put on a bit more weight if he wants to be a nose guard at Cal. He would have no problem kicking outside, but as a self-identified nose guard, it is likely that he and Cal will try to stick him there. Regardless, Johnson is a special player who should be able to play early and often and develop into a valuable player on defense for the Bears in the years to come.
What do you think Cal fans? Will Johnson be able to make an impact on our defense?