Theo Johnson: What Georgia got right to make it a ‘great’ official visit

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4-star prospect Theo Johnson ranks as the nation's No. 3 TE prospect for the 2020 class.

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This play calls for a Theo Johnson OV report. How did that vital official go for the Bulldogs? Where did that leave Georgia with Canada’s top high school football prospect for 2020? 

Georgia brought over 13 feet of tight ends to town last weekend for official visits. Those two guys rate as the nation’s No. 1 ATH (Darnell Washington) and No. 3 TE (Theo Johnson) on the 247Sports Composite rankings for 2020.

It went well for Johnson.

“I thought it was a great official,” Theo Johnson said. “I’m definitely coming out of the visit feeling positive about Georgia for sure.”

Theo Johnson said he enjoyed the chance to hang out with Darnell Washington on their officials. His younger brother, Michael, also made the trip. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

We’ll lead off this update with a sense of boys being boys. They might look like grown NFL men, but the reality here is they both have months of high school left before they will show up on a college campus.

These reports feel successful when we can cut through the normal blah-blah-blah of visit recap stories and find some of the fun. We learned about a little of that over the weekend with Johnson and Washington.

That scene begins with those two cutting it up in Dooley Field’s West End Zone. Washington, the Nevada native, is the one who’s about a half-inch shy of the 6-foot-8 mark.

Johnson is the curly-haired Canadian with a flock of brothers. He’s 6 feet, 6 inches, 245 pounds and more of the pure athlete. He’s oddly the smaller man in this pairing.

His younger brother, Michael, also joined him on the official.

“A big thing I am still processing and thinking about with the visit is how comfortable I feel with the guys and stuff like that,” Johnson said. “How do I feel about coach [Kirby] Smart and coach [Todd] Hartley right now. That’s what I am processing right now.”

Theo Johnson and Darnell Washington cut it up on their OVs

(The scene opens with Johnson and Washington. They are laughing. Again. Those two are laughing or holding up their phones on their gameday visit. Washington was relentless on his social media pointing out just how much Johnson looks like the reigning NFL MVP. Only taller.)

Check out these two. They seemed pretty comfortable with one another in Athens over the weekend. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Washington must have said that this weekend on his Instagram story about as many times as folks noticed Notre Dame players being smitten to the ground. And then suddenly resurrecting themselves.

Johnson chose his reply the way any confident young man inside a locker room might.

It seems the young Canadian knows both comebacks and comeback routes.

That evolved into a lot of the back-and-forth for the weekend. Johnson said the visit was designed to showcase how they would mesh their skills together in Athens.

His rationale for the “Fatty” comeback was justified. Or at least he tried to explain it.

“I just kept on calling him a ‘Fatty’ and just saying it because he’s weighing like 270 or something now and I kept messing with him the whole time that he’s going to be a left tackle if he keeps eating and stuff like that.”

Let’s not get things twisted. If there was an audition for young men to wear workout or football pads and jerseys for an ad campaign, it would be hard not to choose Washington. The 6-foot-7.5, 261-pounder just looks that impressive coming off the bus.

Theo Johnson shared this picture on his Instagram account from his Georgia official. (Theo Johnson/Instagram)

DawgNation should take note of how important it was for those two to feel “chill” and “relaxed” with one another on this visit.

Johnson has said that Washington had been reaching out to him a lot over the weeks leading up to the visit.

They have been vetting the possibility of the two of them playing together in college. Johnson has a final group of Georgia, Iowa, Michigan and Penn State. Alabama might sneak into that group. That’s a wait-and-see thing.

The only school of mutual high interest that those two have in common is UGA. So if those two are going to play together, then the spirit of that “Fattie” and “Mahomes” Act will have to have legs as long as those two gentlemen do going forward.

Johnson wants to feel a bond on his visits.

“The big thing is just getting a good vibe with the coaches and stuff and the players that I am with,” he said prior to his OV. “That’s going to be the thing for me. If I walk out of a visit and I say like ‘Yeah, I really mesh with those guys’ on the visit then that will be a big thing for me because those are the players I am going to be with when I go to that school. That would also leave me with a good vibe with that school with the recruits that are going there who are already committed.”

It sure seemed like he and “Fatty” had fun on that visit.

Georgia QB commitment Carson Beck sat front and center in the stands with both Johnson and 5-star ATH Darnell Washington on Saturday. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The quick hitters on the Theo Johnson visit

We’ll effort to provide a quick overview of the meat-and-potatoes of this post. This is designed for those of you who have the attention span of a South Carolina fan’s hopes for the remainder of their SEC slate.

  • UGA answered every question Johnson had over this OV.
  • He broke down how he and Darnell would be used together.
  • Tight ends coach Todd Hartley shared with Johnson how things would be different for his role in the Georgia offense.
  • The home game atmosphere floored him. He wasn’t expecting anything like that.
  • Carson Beck handled their mutual officials the right way. He didn’t go overboard with pitching them to come to catch something beyond stick routes for three or four years in Athens.
  • The single biggest reason why Johnson would still choose UGA is Hartley
  • This should be his last visit to UGA before making his decision
  • Georgia freshman TE Ryland Goede hosted him last weekend. It was a good pairing. “It was really good,” Johnson said. “I really got along with him and I just really like him. I could see myself getting along with him pretty well if I do end up going to Georgia. I feel like we’re pretty similar and he’s very down to Earth. I actually liked spending time with him this weekend.”
  • Johnson and Washington did chat about playing together over the weekend, but it wasn’t anything new. “Pretty much everything we said to each other on the visit we have already been talking about before,” Theo Johnson said.
  • He isn’t sure about his major, but he said UGA definitely checks all the academic boxes for him.
  • Johnson is sticking to his plan of taking all his upcoming visits. That specific timeline follows below.

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)

Check this out. Johnson was doing this a lot inside Sanford Stadium on Saturday night during the Notre Dame game. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Theo Johnson: The important things on his official visit

The DawgNation update on Johnson that previewed his official will serve as good reference material to grade this official visit.

We’ll lead off this section with something that now seems quite humorous. Especially after what Johnson learned over the weekend.

  • Georgia’s game-day atmosphere “blew away” his incoming expectations 

Johnson did not expect to be wowed by the potential of a big Georgia crowd prior to his visit.

“Whenever it is a big crowd it is really cool to see but I’ve been at some big games with some big crowds before,” he said. “I mean like Michigan has a really big crowd all the time and stuff. It is going to be really cool to see the Georgia crowd, but it is definitely going to be a big game environment that I am familiar with. I think so at least but at the same time, I might go in there and be floored by the whole environment and everything. I personally feel it is going to be something I have seen before environment wise.”

DawgNation saw quite a show on Saturday night. Did he see that coming? He laughed while answering that question.

“I really didn’t expect it to be that crazy,” Johnson said. “Definitely the craziest environment I have ever been a part of. It was crazy exciting. I literally had a headache the rest of the night after the game. It was so loud and the light show and everybody putting on their flashlights before the fourth quarter.”

“Just the whole atmosphere of the entire game was definitely crazy. Fun. Definitely crazier than I could have ever expected.”

“The whole entire game is something I am going to remember for a long time. It was really crazy. Super. A great environment.”

  • Johnson said before the visit that Georgia would need to convince him that they had a plan how they would feature “Fatty” and “Mahomes” in future game plans 

“What coach Hartley said in having two tight ends like Darnell and I would give each other a longer shelf life and be able to play at our best in games,” Johnson said. “The tight ends that are playing like 80 snaps a game don’t usually last very long. He said that it would be the same deal with running backs at Georgia and then bringing in fresh tight ends series for series every few plays. We would give each other rest and share reps so we can keep each other fresh.

“So when we came into the game we wouldn’t be gassed because we were playing the whole game. He sees us being a tandem on the field.”

  • The nation’s No. 3 TE had wanted to see Georgia utilize its tight ends more against a tougher opponent from the likes of Notre Dame

“They’ve definitely been showing so love to the tight ends the first couple of weeks, but I’m just looking to see when a team is giving them a little bit more of a fight do they like just neglect the tight ends or do they implement them the same amount or more?” Johnson said prior to the game.

While Georgia completed 11 of its 18 first downs through the air amid its 20 completions against Notre Dame, the tight ends weren’t in heavy rotation. The tight ends caught three balls for 16 yards, with a long completion of eight yards. Eli Wolf caught one of those balls for a first down.

But Johnson also said the usage rate on any one specific game would not form his complete outlook there.

“Seeing the usage rate of the tight end you know is cool to see on a visit in person,” he said. “But at the same time, that’s stuff I am looking at every week. So it is not a visit thing that would impress me. I’m looking at that stuff every week.”

“The big thing is just getting a good vibe with the coaches and the players that I am with, he said. “That’s going to be the thing for me. If I walk out of a visit and I say like ‘Yeah, I really mesh with those guys’ on the visit then that will be a big thing for me because those are the players I am going to be with when I go to that school. That would also leave me with a good vibe with that school with the recruits that are going there who are already committed.”

  • What Todd Hartley said about how the Georgia offense would look different with Johnson on the team

Johnson explained that one in short order. He said that he would be watching how Georgia used Charlie Woerner in that game and during the season.

“One thing that coach Hartley said that stuck out to me was Charlie Woerner and I are different tight ends,” he said. “Charlie Woerner is a really great blocking tight end but he sees me differently. They would use me differently if I was to go there. Like with my speed and how we could all play in their passing game. He said that when you see the tight ends getting a certain amount of balls it would be different if we had a tight end like you here. That was what he was kind of saying to me the whole weekend.”

Theo Johnson (left), Darnell Washington (center) and QB commit Carson Beck (right) could be a lethal pairing in Athens for years to come. Johnson appreciated how Beck wasn’t trying to sell him about Georgia the whole time on the visit. They just hung out.  (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
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