The Wolverine

April 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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APRIL 2021 THE WOLVERINE 51   COMMITMENT PROFILE M ichigan landed its most impor- tant commit of the 2022 recruit- ing cycle to close out the month of February. Five-star Grosse Pointe (Mich.) South cornerback Will Johnson, the No. 13 overall prospect nationally per, shut down his recruit- ment a bit earlier than expected and committed to the Wolverines, giving them the face of their class with a year to go before National Signing Day. Johnson picked Michigan over fel- low finalist USC. He also held of- fers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A&M and number of other major programs across the country. "It really came down to Michigan and USC," Johnson said. "I was re- ally comfortable with [USC assistant head coach] Donte [Williams] and Coach Mo [Michigan co-defensive coordinator Maurice Linguist]. "I just felt more comfortable being home, and I also saw the way the Michigan program was going up. I thought it was best to make a deci- sion now and lead the class." Johnson took self-guided tours to Michigan, Ohio State and USC before ultimately picking the Wolverines. However, U-M wasn't always a slam- dunk for Johnson, whose father, Deon, played for the Wolverines in the 1990s. Ohio State gained momentum in Janu- ary, and USC gave him a lot to think about as his decision neared. With ongoing staff changes in Ann Arbor, Johnson admitted he had some concerns, especially after posi- tion coach Michael Zordich was dis- missed from the program. However, the 6-2, 182-pounder was able to quickly bond with Linguist, who in addition to his co-DC role is the new cornerbacks coach and played a piv- otal role in closing this recruitment. "Coach Mo was a big factor with his pro knowledge and his experi- ence," Johnson said. "I was famil- iar with their schemes before he got there, but now, it's a big difference with him on staff. There is also a big difference with the environment and the way they practice. Everybody is comfortable with Coach Mo, and ev- erybody likes him." Johnson also praised the rest of the Michigan staff. As an in-state kid and the top overall priority on the 2022 recruiting board, the Wolverines went all in with a complete team re- cruiting effort. "I talk to the Michigan staff every day," Johnson said. "Whether it's Coach Mo, Coach [Ron] Bellamy, Coach [Sherrone] Moore or even Coach [Josh] Gattis, they all reach out to me. They all wanted me to be on board. They recruited me hard and made me feel like part of the family." With his decision out of the way, Johnson is now focused on leading Michigan's 2022 recruiting class and luring more top talent to Ann Arbor. And it all starts in the secondary. "My pitch to [four-star athlete/ safety] Dillon Tatum is the best players in Michigan go to Michigan," Johnson said. "We can team up just like [on our club seven-on-seven team] and beat the best guys around the country. "I'm also recruiting guys like [Ri- vals100 safety] Keon Sabb, [four-star cornerback] Myles Pollard, [four-star cornerback] Jaeden Gould and [Ri- vals100 safety] Bryce Anderson. I tell them that we can build the best sec- ondary in the country under Coach Mo." Johnson is the sixth commit in Mich- igan's 2022 recruiting class and third defensive back, joining four-star pros- pects Kody Jones and Taylor Groves. With the 2021 recruiting class finish- ing No. 9 nationally per and the 2022 recruiting class off to a hot start (No. 10 as of March 12), Johnson is a full believer in the future of the Michigan program. "When I get there, I think that we'll win those big games," Johnson said. "That's what I'm expecting. I believe we'll be winning Big Ten champi- onships and competing for national championships. "Just winning at the highest level — that's what everybody is looking forward to, and that's what the goal should be." — EJ Holland U-M Lands Its Top Overall 2022 Target In Five-Star Cornerback Will Johnson At No. 13 overall, Johnson is the highest- rated Wolverine commitment in the Rivals. com rankings since Donovan Peoples-Jones (No. 12) in the class of 2017. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM PLAYER EVALUATION Strengths: Will Johnson is a tall, long corner that is comparable to multiple- time All-Pro Richard Sherman of the San Francisco 49ers. He is at his best in press- man coverage when he can use his length and physicality to his advantage and overwhelm opposing wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. However, Johnson doesn't always have to press. He plays with great technique and patience, and often baits quarterbacks into making throws. Despite his height, he has no issues turning his hips and sticking with faster wideouts. Sim- ply put, he takes away his entire side of the football field at the high school level. Weaknesses: It's hard to find a lot of faults in his game since he's so dominant on the prep level. Verified speed has been the biggest critique of Johnson. He doesn't necessarily show top-end straight-line speed or lateral quickness on tape, but that doesn't mean he's lacking it. He just isn't tested much at the high school level. He could also outgrow the corner position and transition to safety. Michigan Player Comparison: Comparing Johnson to a player on the Michi- gan roster would be a bit of a disservice to him. He has the height and length of a guy like Gemon Green, but from a talent and skill set standpoint, Johnson may be the best cornerback on the Michigan roster as soon as he steps foot on cam- pus. The expectation will be for him to start and succeed as a boundary corner during his freshman campaign. — EJ Holland

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