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Malcolm Johnson Jr./Instagram
Malcom Johnson Jr. ijust might be the fastest 2021 prospect in the country.

Malcolm Johnson Jr: Why ‘The Jet’ is taking a hard look at UGA

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry is the first DawgNation profile feature on 2021 speedster Malcolm Johnson Jr. from St. Stephens’s & St. Agnes School in Virginia.  

Malcom Johnson Jr. has the flashy “The Jet” nickname. That tag was earned because of his blistering speed from the WR position.

Let’s tick off the times:

  • 6.26 in 55 meters (The indoor time ranked as the third-best time in the nation for the winter of 2020)
  • Ran an unofficial 10.38 in the 100m at an international meet in Cuba in the summer of 2019
  • Clocked an official 10.50 in the 100m and a 21.37 in the 200m as a high school sophomore

With that, those times are enough to certify that he’s easily one of the 10 fastest players that the Georgia staff has recruited in the time that Kirby Smart has been the head coach. Easily. The number there is probably like one of the five fastest with only names like Tyson Campbell, Kelee Ringo and Arian Smith showing up in that very fast lane.

“I like Georgia,” Malcolm Johnson Jr. said late last week. “I feel like we have a great relationship. He’s a real genuine guy. You can kind of tell that. I’ve talked to his kids. His wife. That’s really important and I’ve talked to coach Smart. I got off the phone with him like two days ago and we were just chopping it up.”

Smart is just one of about three head coaches that Johnson speaks to on the regular. Auburn’s Gus Malzhan and Maryland’s Mike Locksley would be the other two.

The big thing to consider here is that Johnson has that type of resume through basically three varsity indoor track seasons and two outdoor seasons. He told DawgNation that a 10.20 was certainly possible this spring if he would’ve gotten a chance to compete if not for the global pandemic.

He said that 10.38 showing in the 100 meters was when he wasn’t even getting the proper training.

“I’m pretty sure I could have run that 10.2 this spring,” Johnson said. “I think I could have.”

So Johnson is fast. Stupid fast basically. And yet the scope of this narrative will now quickly not to where he’s going. But to where he’s been. Or better yet where hard work has taken him.

While he is now a strapping 6-foo-1 and 190 pounds, he has not always fit the mold of a 4-star WR who ranks as the nation’s No. 36 WR and No. 191 overall prospect (247Sports Composite) for 2021.

When he was in middle school, he was very slight. Like 120 pounds in the eighth grade small.

Consider this clip first and foremost. This is what he looked like on a football field in 2014.

That could be seen as a starter’s pistol for Johnson and his football growth. This is what he looked like five years later in the fall of 2019.

How did he get to this from that? His answer is nothing more complicated than pure old-fashioned grind and sweat equity.

His special sauce? It is a unique training module in wide use today. That’s the Vertimax. It may look like a torture device of some sort, but it has sculpted Johnson into the budding world-class athlete he is today.

“I’ve been working every day since I was 11 or 12 to get this fast,” he told DawgNation. “I’ve been on VertiMax since I was about that age. My uncle, he has it. We used to push cars. Push vans. It was crazy.”

He couldn’t even tell you how many hours he’s been on the VertiMax.

“I’ve seen that machine so many times in my life,” he said. “It is crazy.”

Malcolm Johnson Jr: The boom-boom-boom things to know

He lives in Maryland but undertakes a rough 60-minute commute every day to attend a rigorous private school in Northern Virginia. That traffic around the Washington D.C. beltway is the stuff that would make Atlanta commuters say “Amen” when it comes to the slow-motion on the very bad days.

Johnson released a top 8 back on May 22. The teams involved were certifiable brand names: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Texas and USC.

Here’s the catchy part. Johnson has a top 8 but he’s going to have to take things slowly with his college decision. The reason here is simple. He has yet to visit any of those schools aside from Maryland.

He did hint at a top 5 drop recently on social. There’s a chance he could, but he said that now he doesn’t have any idea of when the next cutdown of his top options could come.

“We were initially going to drop it soon but then some things came up,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to figure everything out.”

What does he like best about the Bulldogs?

“The biggest thing I like about Georgia is coach Hankton,” he said.

He said the Georgia receivers coach “without a doubt” checked all the boxes he is looking for as far as his potential position coach at the next level.

In some ways, his path will mirror what Georgia is doing at the WR position for the 2021 cycle. Georgia signed what could very well amount to the best crop of receivers in program history in 2020. So that means a few things. ……

  • The Bulldogs can and will be very selective with its 2021 board at WR. Expect no more than two signees at receiver in 2021, if that many.
  • That said, that wave of receivers for the 2020 class was also the first wave of prospects that were brought in specifically to fit into “Air Raid” guru Todd Monken’s offensive system and philosophies.
  • Georgia currently has 13 receivers on scholarship for the 2020 season. It is a safe bet that five or six of those names will no longer be Bulldogs after the 2021 season.

Johnson will not enroll early in January of 2021. He wants to finish out his senior year at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes in Northern Virginia and enjoy one more full indoor and outdoor track season.

He wants to run track and play football in college. Johnson said he has already expressed that with his top schools.

The 4-star prospect had 47 catches for 832 yards (17.7 yards per catch) last fall. He scored seven touchdowns in those eight games. Check out the film work below.

The desire to be great propels Malcolm Johnson Jr. 

What is his story? His words convey it aptly.

“I look at it like family,” he said. “A lot of people have their family tree and their like famous cousins or whatever. Their family played in the NFL or at a big college or things like that. But my family, we don’t really have anything like that. Anybody of that magnitude.”

Johnson said he is especially close to his four-year-old niece. She might be the only human on earth that could easily catch him when he’s running after him. That is if he would allow her to catch him.

“I want my niece to never have to worry about money again or my family for that matter,” he said. “I want to start a whole dynasty and a whole empire for my family.”

Her name is Cameron. She calls him “Unc” and that’s one of the sweetest sounds he’s ever heard.

“She means the world to me,” Malcom Johnson Jr. said. “She’s really the only little sister I have. I have older sisters. That’s my little sister and I love her to the world and back.”

When she’s in the stand at a game or a race, he will look for her. When he works out, she will be there watching him.

“Whenever she comes over we will play a lot,” he said. “She’s a huge influence in my life.”

They run around the house a lot. The emphasis is on the “a lot” part.

“My parents get mad at us but we run around a lot and she says she wants to do track,” he said. “So we will see where that goes.”

He wears No. 5 for a very special reason.

“My cousin was really the first person I really ever saw play football,” he said. “He wore No. 5 and also there are five members of my immediate family. There’s my Mom, my Dad, my two sisters and my grandmother. So every time I put that number on, I think about them.”

Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download. 

Malcolm Johnson-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Georgia had a specific name, image and likeness “Zoom” session with Malcolm Johnson Jr. recently about building his own personal brand. He said that the Bulldogs were unique among other programs because they were already showing him a plan as to how they would handle that with their athletes on campus. (Malcolm Johnson/Instagram)

Malcom Johnson Jr: Timelines and moving forward

He had hoped to make his commitment prior to his first games as a senior this fall. But chalk them up as a casualty to the pandemic.

“I don’t know what is going to happen now,” Johnson said. “I was supposed to visit so many schools. I was supposed to visit even more back during spring break. I was supposed to visit three schools during spring break.”

What he has been doing is a lot of virtual visits. A lot of Zoom calls. He’s been speaking to coaches, head coaches and even their wives. That’s all to help him get a better feel for things.

He’d like to take all five official visits before he makes his decision.

“I feel like it would definitely help,” he said. “There’s nothing like seeing something in person. Although it does help to get a virtual visit, but in person, it is just completely different. You can just feel it in the air.”

What is he looking for?

“Definitely the ability to do track and football,” he said. “That’s pretty large. Education with their business programs that will be big as well. The development of speed as well. Not just someone of my speed. I feel that is really important as well because not a lot of people really know how to develop speed.”

Johnson felt like Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, Maryland and LSU were the schools in his top group that are making him the biggest priority at this time. Track is a big piece of the puzzle for his decision but he did state that he’s looking for the best football fit first and then track will come after that.

DAWGNATION RECRUITING

(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)

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