Analyst: Johnson Has Potential In The Slot
When Michigan landed a commitment from Thompson’s Station (Tenn.) Independence three-star wide receiver Nate Johnson over the weekend, they picked up one of the most productive high school receivers in the nation. His 1,713 yards as a senior was the 15th-most in the nation this fall.
According to Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst Woody Wommack, you can’t argue with that production when it comes to his ability to translate it to the next level.
“What I like about Nate is obviously his production in high school,” Wommack said. “It’s super-impressive. I think he’s going to be a great slot receiver at the next level. On his high school team, he plays a little bit of everything, but in terms of projecting it forward, especially because of his size - he fits in well in the slot.
“He’s a shifty-type guy: I wouldn’t say he’s your pure speed guy, but at the same time, he’s got good football speed. He’s got really good hands, and he’s got a little bit of that elusive wiggle that people like to talk about so much. He’s a guy that can catch a lot of balls, and can maybe return kicks depending on how things shake out up there. A solid, solid, grab for sure.”
The 5-11, 174-pounder helped lead his team to a 15-0 record and a state title this fall. He
played as a pure wideout for most of the season, but also had opportunities to attack from the slot, or even carry the ball. According to Wommack, his size will probably see him stick to the inside at the next level.
“I think he can maybe move around a little bit just because of the versatility in his skill set, but personally, I think his future is definitely as a slot guy,” Wommack said. “Especially in the Big Ten with a lot of big bodies out there running around, I think he is generously listed at 5-11, and he’s going to have to add a little bit of weight to absorb some of those hits.”
Physically shaping his body to handle the rigors of competing in college will be important for Johnson. The No. 98 wide receiver nationally and No. 23 senior in Tennessee will have to add weight - but make sure he doesn’t sacrifice any of the attributes that make him a special prospect in the process.
“He’s going to have to bulk up a little bit, and then he still needs to work on getting quicker when he adds that size,” Wommack said. “Speed isn’t really something you can coach into a kid, but guys can get a little bit quicker, a little faster if they train at it. I can see him, once he gets into a college-type situation, he could go in and be super-productive for a few years, especially if he’s paired with the right quarterback.”
Michigan certainly anticipates having the quarterback play necessary to help a player like Johnson succeed. Along with those already on the roster, the Maize and Blue are bringing in four-star Brandon Peters in Johnson’s own class. That pairing could lead to many productive years in Ann Arbor for both.