The name Tyreke Johnson immediately comes to mind when starting to break down Georgia’s chances at the elite players in 2018.
“Georgia would be a perfect school for me because they play like savages,” Johnson said. “The class they got this year is full of savages. If I was to stay home, then Georgia would be a perfect school for me.”
There are several factors to consider for the 6-foot-2, 185-pound prospect:
The 5-star recruit is close to two UGA players. That’s freshman Richard LeCounte III and junior Reggie Wilkerson.
- There’s a definite California and West Coast trend to his recruiting. Yet the Florida resident has said if he signs with a school close to home, it will be at UGA.
- He’s made several trips to Athens.
- Johnson has a high level of respect for defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and head coach Kirby Smart.
- LeCounte named Johnson when he was asked last fall about the player that could succeed him as a major influence for other recruits.
- Johnson shed some light on why he felt LeCounte said that. He told DawgNation the school signs with will get a package of several more top prospects. Those guys want to play together.
What’s the latest?
Johnson told DawgNation he still felt Georgia would be the only school he would sign to play with that would be close to his Florida home.
“I still love UCLA,” Johnson said. “The University of Southern California has jumped into the picture and so has the University of Oregon.”
Johnson aims to enroll early. “It gives me a great advantage over other freshman and over other people (in the program) who have been there a long time,” he said. “We would go into fall training camp with the same knowledge. I should know the playbook by then. There shouldn’t be any excuse why I should not be on the field.”
The recruiting services list him as the nation’s No. 2 safety but he reiterated he will be a cornerback at the next level. “Every school that I talk to is recruiting me as a corner,” he said.
Johnson is prioritizing his time to his high school team and his 7-on-7 team.
“I’m trying to win this fifth consecutive state championship (at Trinity Christian) and its never been done in the state of Florida,” Johnson said. “We’ve moved up a classification to (Class) 5A so I’m trying to do something that has never been done before and I’m trying to win a national championship in 7-on-7 this year. It is one of those things where I have a lot on my plate and I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
Look for him to make his decision in November of 2017.
His current thoughts on UGA
LeCounte has already shared what the UGA student-athlete life is like.
“Richard told me he loves it there,” Johnson said. “He said it is exactly like what they showed him on all his recruiting visits. He feels himself getting stronger and faster and feels like he is being developed already just by the weight room. He feels like he is going to take him game to a whole another level there.”
The 2018 U.S. Army All-American said the Bulldogs continue to recruit him “very hard.” He said the UGA doesn’t really need to do anything more to enhance its chances of signing him.
He said wins and losses in 2017 won’t even be a major consideration. Why? He knows that they are coming but that’s not a deciding factor.
“As long as my position is getting prepared properly (for the NFL) and people are getting drafted and the NFL is watching and coming down and picking their players then that is all that matters,” Johnson said.
Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker hits the bulls-eye on that front.
“Coach Tucker was the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars,” Johnson said. “That’s back when Jacksonville was good. So that tells you something. That man knows what he is talking about.”
Tyreke Johnson wants to find this in college …
Johnson’s football acumen is high. As an example, he brought up the notion of NCAA Division II QB Jared Goff.
“The NFL doesn’t care about those power schools and stuff like that,” he said. “They just want a kid that can play ball. The dude Goff never wore more than 14 games in his college career and he became a Top 2 pick. I personally think the NFL should be picking winners, though. A kid that has been on a losing team for so long he is going to accept losing. But losing to me is unacceptable.”
He’s also chiefly looking for a great degree.
“I want to be a double major in business and finance,” he said “I also want some Christian coaches. Some coaches to where I can go to them and talk to them man-to-man and they are going to help me in life. They are going to give me some scripture I can apply to my life for whatever I am going through.”
He sees Tucker as a great father figure.
“He also goes to church on Sundays which is a big plus,” Johnson said. “Coach Tucker is a very serious guy. He’s one of those guys that is going to let you know what he tells you to know. I kind of like that. He has like an assassin mindset. He seems like he is not going to let you get too close yet and pick his brain yet. He seems like a very serious guy.”
That meshes well with Smart.
“Coach Smart is an open book,” Johnson said. “What you see is what you get with him. But I like the relationship that Coach Tucker and I have. It is very serious and very much about business. I also have a great relationship with (Georgia inside linebackers coach Glenn) Schumann. That’s my guy. That’s my boy.”
Another thing he likes about UGA
Johnson said every school makes it seem like a top prospect is needed. They better or they need to get coached up in the recruiting game.
He sees something about Georgia that doesn’t require a pitch.
“I actually see I could be a very big piece,” he said. “Because Georgia (in its No. 3 in the nation class for 2017) is missing a corner. Out of this whole great class to me, they are missing a corner. They signed a great player in Ameer Speed. He’s going to be a great player and a vital asset to the team. He’s long and fast but I still don’t think they went and got that lockdown go-get-it corner. That corner is going to guard the Amari Coopers and Julio Jones and Laquon Treadwells and the Jerry Jeudys and Calvin Ridleys (of the SEC) every play by themselves. I’m talking about the guy who says I am following that guy around the field all game. Even if he goes in the slot. The guy who is man-to-man all game. The rest of the defense can play zone and they can adjust the defense to him. I don’t think Georgia has that elite No. 1 premier corner yet.”
Let’s be clear here. He said that the current signees at Georgia are great. He said that Speed — who he knows and played Pop Warner ball with growing up in Jacksonville — is a “technician” who will be a “great great corner” at Georgia.
But his opinion is reflected in the recruiting ratings. The Bulldogs have not signed a player that was rated among the nation’s Top 15 prospects at that position under Smart.
The six prospects that Georgia has signed at cornerback under Smart in two years have carried an average rating of No. 41 overall at the position.
Paying it forward
Johnson realizes that former 5-stars like LeCounte and Demetris Robertson helped shape him into the player he is today. He’s clearly stated his appreciation for their impact on his career in the past.
He only feels is naturally to do the same for the next wave. The nation’s No. 16 overall prospect feels that two of his Pro Impact 7-on-7 teammates are certain to be the next big things on the radar of every major program.
The first of those was Chattahoochee rising sophomore CB Willie T. Lee.
“You might as well go ahead and put him as the No. 1 corner and the No. 1 safety and the No. 1 athlete period down right now for 2020,” Johnson said. “This man is it. He has the size, the speed and the skill set. This man was guarding South Florida Express high school receivers when he was in the eighth grade.”
“He’s going to be great and the thing is he’s a great learner. He learns fast and he is very coachable. He takes instruction from everyone and just makes plays. This guy was already out there in the eighth grade already guarding all the great Florida receivers. This kid in incredible.”
— T Lee-Young$avage (@yung_tlee6) February 13, 2017
The second rising sophomore he named was Florida safety Avante Williams. Williams just recently committed to Miami. MaxPreps.com named Williams as a Freshman All-American first teamer this past season.
“He’s also going to be great and another very good one,” Johnson said. “To me, that’s the next Richard LeCounte at safety. I’m telling you. This kid is physical, fast and athletic and he’s got that fast-twitch muscle. He has that big-play knack.”