Theo Johnson: Nation’s No. 3 TE sets the table for his UGA official visit
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. The play sheet today calls for another chance to chat with the No. 1 player in Canada for the 2020 class and the No. 3 TE prospect for the 2020 cycle in 4-star Theo Johnson.
The young Canadian with the curly hair will be back in Athens this weekend for his official visit. Theo Johnson took some time this week to chat with DawgNation on a great many things.
The topics of great reader interest would have to be:
- The increased attention he’s been getting from UGA
- A rise in communication with 5-star ATH Darnell Washington about the chances of playing together
- Miami sounds like it will not get one of his final three officials.
- Alabama sounds like it could roll in and claim that last one
- The potential timeline for his decision
- Does he see himself as a true tight end or a flex end hybrid?
- What would a successful official look like coming out of Athens?
- What he likes best right now about Georgia
His flight leaves in the 12 o’clock hour from Detriot on Friday. It means Johnson and his mother, Amy, and a younger brother to be named later will comprise the traveling party.
The Johnsons will land in Atlanta and maybe the traffic waves will part long enough for him to reach the UGA campus by 6 p.m. on Friday.
What takes place from that point until the time he leaves at 3 p.m. on Sunday will shape whether or not he returns to Athens in January as a member of the 2020 class. Iowa, Michigan and Penn State are big contenders here.
Johnson still plans a bang-bang-bang-bang series of visits over the next six weeks. The school he feels the best about after those rapid-fire sessions will likely earn his signature on early signing day in December.
His commitment will likely come before that, too.
But nothing is concrete on that front. His latest interview leaves one thinking he’s still unsure about what he wants to do. For starters, there is a new team on his radar.
The Holy Names (Windsor, Ontario) standout also can see his decision stretching out to mid-November. Maybe even to the Under Armour All-American Game in January. Johnson is still focused on which school feels like his best fit. Not when he will make his decision known.
The 6-foot-6 senior felt back in July all of this would be so much easier if he simply knew what he wanted to do. It would make things less complex. He said this week that all four of those schools seem to the same core values in common that he is looking for.
The revised official visit schedule for Theo Johnson
Johnson no longer plans to entertain an official to Miami. He’s already taken official visits to Cincinnati and Iowa. That will leave him just two more after the UGA visit this weekend.
Here’s what that travel grid looks like:
Sept. 20-22: Georgia official visit (Notre Dame)
Oct. 12: Iowa unofficial visit (One-day visit)
Oct. 18-20: Penn State official visit (Michigan)
Oct. 25-26: Michigan unofficial visit (Notre Dame)
Nov. 8-10: Potential Alabama official (LSU game)
Johnson has swapped his interest with Miami with Alabama. Basically.
“I have been talking to Alabama a bit recently and they’ve been asking me if I wanted to take an official for the LSU weekend,” Johnson said. “I’ve been thinking about visiting for that weekend. Nothing is sure but it is something I’ve been thinking about doing.”
“If I want to decide from the schools I have right now then I will decide and not take that visit. I haven’t decided if that’s what I want to do yet with that. But I’ve been thinking about it.”
If Johnson knows where he wants to go by then, he will not likely take that visit. He’s talking to Alabama now. It will be interesting to see if those talks allow the Crimson Tide’s chances to grow into something more than than a final official visit to utilize.
He’s set to play in the Under Armour All-American Game. With that, the thought of waiting until January of 2020 to announce his decision sounds daunting to him. Especially since he will have to sign during the early period in mid-December.
“I haven’t really figured out what I would like to do with that yet,” Johnson said.
He’d certainly like to.
“As soon as I know I feel like I’m going to want to announce it,” he said of his decision. “Because I’m going to be pretty excited to announce it.”
Theo Johnson: A distinct mentality
Hailing from Canada is a rather uncommon thing. That’s the land of “glitchy” weather these days where it calls for short sleeves one morning and the longer ones for the afternoon. Those temps will be just the opposite the next day.
It is also the home of coaches hoping their second down conversion rates are strong enough to pull out wins. That’s because Canadian rules mirror that of the CFL. They get three downs. Most squads when the sticks are at 3rd-and-5 or longer.
“Second down is the money down,” Johnson said. “It is treated the exact same way as third down in America. Like doing a Cover-3 in the states. In Canada, we do Cover-4. We don’t have Cover-2 like in the states. It is impossible to have two people cover that wide of a field.”
Canada’s fields are 65 yards wide. They are 12 yards wider and 10 yards longer than the American versions. It means teams are in Cover-4 on second down. Trying to force a punt.
“It will make it a lot easier playing with four downs,” Theo Johnson said. “When you are so used to having only two plays to get the first down, it is rough. Then when you have four downs it will be so much easier. You are so used to fighting for every yard because you know you have one play after first down. Or if you don’t covert this second down you will have to punt.”
It is hard to wrap the brain around that. Just like those 20-yard end zones, the 12 men on the field and players in motion heading toward the line pre-snap.
Johnson flexes out wide a lot for his high school program at Holy Names. Does he wish to continue that on Saturdays? Does he want to take his 6-foot-6 frame, his high 4.5 speed in the 40 and add to his elite athleticism and become a “hybrid” offensive weapon?
No and no. Johnson just wants to be a tight end. Simple.
“My thing is I just know I fit the bill for a tight end,” he said. “I just have the perfect body type. Yeah, I might have very good pass game skills and I’ve played a lot of receiver and stuff but I can be very very lethal at tight end. People were recruiting me at first and said they do a lot of passing and stuff. They didn’t really talk too much about the blocking. I feel like after I started telling people I want to block and I want to see blocking stuff that’s when people started showing me more of that stuff. That’s just something I want to do.”
“You see all the guys that are in the league for a long time at tight end. Those are the guys who can run down the field and make the crazy catches but at the same time, they are the guys who can also stand up a defensive end. That’s somebody I want to be. I want to be that guy that they say ‘he is the complete tight end’ and he can do it all.”
Johnson wants to throw guys around in the run game. If he comes to Georgia, that will be as big a plus as playing in the warmer climates and in the rugged SEC.
“I’m honestly looking forward to that part of it,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot more blocking this year than I have in the past. Just to get ready for the obviously inevitable for me which is blocking more in college. I’m honestly looking forward to it. I have a lot of fun just hitting guys in practice and stuff. I’ve been playing a lot more [defensive end] and stuff to get aggressive and get ready to hit guys. I’ve been doing a lot of blocking to get me ready for this season.”
His current height is 6 feet, 6 inches. He weighed in at Penn State last weekend at just under 245 pounds.
And Mr. Johnson has a clear goal.
“My plan is to get as good or better at blocking than I am with my passing game and the receiver stuff,” he said.
Theo Johnson: A successful UGA official will be …..
Johnson feels UGA has been through three tune-ups games so far. Georgia tight ends coach Todd Hartley has made sure to update him on how the Bulldogs are working their tight ends more in 2019.
That position is evolving in the first-year coordinator and play-caller James Coley’s system. The 4-star prospect wants to see Georgia’s tight ends “do more” against a stouter team like Notre Dame.
“I’m hoping to see that when they face a tougher team they don’t neglect their tight ends,” Johnson said. “They implement them more. I’m hoping to see the tight ends being integrated into the offense even when the game is a little bit tougher than some of the teams they have been playing.”
The ideal for Johnson would be to see the Bulldogs give the tight ends that same work rate. Maybe even increase it when the game is still much in doubt.
5-star ATH Darnell Washington is another coveted prospect for the 2020 class. He is also in town this weekend for his official. If he chooses Georgia, the 6-foot-7.5, 255-pound senior will also be employed at tight end.
That is the tricky part for Georgia this weekend. Can Georgia walk away from the 2020 cycle with two of the nation’s top five TE recruits by anyone’s rankings? How will the Bulldogs use them?
“I’m kind of looking to get that answered myself this weekend,” Johnson said. “To kind of see if we were both to come here [to Georgia] then what would the plan be? Because I feel we could definitely complement one another. For sure. We are both very good at what we do. That’s a question that I will be asking this weekend.”
He’s been speaking to Johnson a lot more lately. The same goes for Hartley, too.
“We’ve been talking more about possibly going somewhere together and stuff,” Johnson said of Washington. “Possibly. But honestly, it just talk right now. We’ve been talking and have picked up the communication over the last little while. We’ve definitely been talking about what it would be like if we went somewhere together. But it is all just talk right now.”
Hartley has been speaking to Johnson every day this week. Coaches are allowed to ramp up the contact via phone during the week of a prospect’s official visit.
What’s the best thing he still likes about Georgia?
“Honestly when I was there for the spring game I just really loved the school,” he said. “Its a lot different than what I am used to. Just how the buildings are. Just the overall feeling from Athens from when I was there before. It is just different. Everything outside of football about Georgia, I just really like. Not saying anything against the football. But I just really like all the other stuff about Georgia outside of the football.”
Johnson has been to games at Michigan and to Penn State. He doesn’t expect to be wowed or blown away by the Sanford Stadium crowd. If it does, then that will surprise him.
“The biggest thing that Georgia can show me this weekend is to just get a good vibe from the coaches and the players there and the players I am with,” he said. “That is really big for me. If I’m walking out of the visit and I say like ‘I really meshed with the guys on the visit’ then that will be big for me. Those are the players I’m going to be with when I go to that school and that would leave me with a good vibe with the guys that are committed and the other recruits and stuff. Those are the people that will be going there in my class.”