A few weeks ago, I began a massive series on Go Joe Bruin intended to highlight each of the 2013 UCLA football signees one at a time. At the onset, I was chugging along just fine, and I got through the first five recruits with ease. But as college basketball took the main stage over the past month, the 26-piece set of recruiting profiles was placed on the back burner.
Now, with the Final Four etched in stone and the Bruins basketball team watching from home, it’s as good a time as any to get back on the wagon. The inaugural article, which shone a spotlight on highly-touted safety Priest Willis, can be seen here.
Today’s edition is the sixth installment of the GJB feature and will focus on Willis’ secondary counterpart, John Johnson.
Johnson, a 4-star cornerback out of Fresno, Calif. (Central East), committed to the Bruins back in January before inking his Letter of Intent on National Signing Day.
The 5’10”, 175-pound Semper Fi All-American boasted offers from a number of schools, including storied programs like Oklahoma and Notre Dame. According to ESPN, he also had six Pac-12 offers in addition to UCLA, those coming from Stanford, Cal, Utah, Oregon State, Washington and Southern Cal.
But in the end, after a pair of visits to the Westwood campus, Johnson decided his future was brightest as a Bruin. And given UCLA’s massive struggles in the defensive backfield last season, the commitment could not have been more crucial for head coach Jim Mora.
The Bruins are set to lose their entire starting secondary from 2012, as safety Andrew Abbott and CBs Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price are all graduating, and sophomore FS Tevin McDonald was dismissed from the team. Toss in the debilitating illness of rising sophomore CB Marcus Rios, and it’s clear UCLA has some holes to plug up on defense.
Thankfully for the Bruins, that’s where Johnson and the rest of the highly-ranked DB recruits come in.
Johnson is a genuine gamer with elite coverage skills and unparalleled instincts. What he lacks in size is more than made up for in football IQ and a desire to compete. Working out of zone coverage or the press, Johnson has superb anticipation and is liable to pop off for a pick-six at anytime. He isn’t big enough to take a power running back one-on-one, but that doesn’t deter him from helping out when the opportunity presents itself.
If strength coach Sal Alosi can get him in the weight room early and often, Johnson has the potential to carve out a starting role immediately. And even if he spends his first season on special teams, he appears to have an incredibly bright future at UCLA. For good reason, having Johnson in the fold has the Bruin faithful psyched up for 2013 and beyond.