The flood gates are slowly, but surely opening for the 2015 recruiting class. After a class that featured only E.J. Donahue for over five months, Maryland faithful were fearing that the program was headed in the wrong direction. Well I'm here to assure you that Randy Edsall and company took a stride in the right direction with the signing of RB/DB Ty Johnson.
Johnson joins Florida native and recent Maryland commit Deltron Sands as the two backs in the class. My crystal ball reads that these two kids' electric combination of speed and strength could make for a potential Jonathan Stewart-DeAngelo Williams two-headed monster. And in a perfect world, E.J. Donahue and Ellis McKennie would pave the way for the tandem. Not a half-bad recruiting class after all, eh?
But before we start hoisting the trophy, let's break down this kid's film.
In case you missed it, click here to see Pete's initial article, with his junior year highlights in it.
The Recruit: Ty Johnson
High School: Fort Hill High School (Cumberland, Md.)
Position: Running back or corner back, listed on 247sports as a pure running back
247sports composite: Three stars, 25th best player in the state of Maryland and 82nd best running back in the nation.
Measurables: He is listed as 5'10'', 170 pounds on 247sports but listed himself as 182 pounds on his player profile. His height makes him a few inches taller than future teammate Sands.
Here's where the fun begins.
40-yard dash: Clocked at 4.38 and 4.4
Max bench: 335 pounds
Max squat: 350 pounds
Max clean: 275 pounds
Leg press: 1200 pounds
Junior season: Quite simply put, the kid destroyed his competition. He lead Fort Hill to a 14-0 record and a 25-0 route over Frederick Douglass (pride of Shawn Merriman) in the 1A State Championship game. For those people who preach "numbers never lie," then you are going to love this rising senior. His incredible play earned him Times-News Area Player of the Year and First Team All-State honors.
Rushing: 72 attempts, 1254 yards, 17.4 yards per carry, 16 touchdowns
Receiving: 15 receptions, 332 yards, 5 touchdowns
50 total takcles, 10 interceptions
7 punt returns, 114 yards, 16.3 average
3 kick returns, 111 yards, 37 average, one touchdown
Offers: Believe it or not, Johnson only held offers from Maryland and Albany. Attending a high school in Western Maryland where a graduating class is but a mere 225 students, college coaches often overlook the talent within these small areas.
On film: Not many (if any other) high school players can boast a highlight film with strictly touchdowns and interceptions in them (not counting videos of less than 15 seconds). In his five minute video we analyzed, every single play ended with him crossing the pylons or him flashing his hands on the defensive end.
The first thing to note is his breakaway speed. It is impossible to miss his wheels once he hits the open field. The opposition often doesn't cut him off and he always capitalizes by turning the corner and running north. Johnson looks so speedy that he makes the corners huffing and puffing while chasing him look like they're running in slow motion.
The second thing to take notice to is his ability to see the field. Playing against easier competition and possessing the wheels he has, it would be easy to take a Reggie Bush-esque option and pop it outside every play. Although he looks like a cannon shooting out of a ball, he still recognizes the field and runs between the tackles, north and south, letting the play develop. With the rush of talented offensive lineman signees for Maryland, this patience and vision would mix perfectly. The runs that best elicit my meaning behind his patience and willingness to let the play develop can be viewed at the two runs starting at 2:06 of the film.
His ability to run between the tackles doesn't take away his ability to be creative, however. On a few of his interceptions and runs, he completely changes fields, seeing a better route, and scores a touchdown. That kind of elusiveness is exciting on any level.
Defensively, he uses his athleticism on most of these plays to instinctively intercept the ball. He constantly keeps his head on the swivel. To me there are two things to take out of his defensive plays considering the level of competition: one is that the quarterbacks can't be the most talented slingers in the world. And two is that it is crazy impressive that he managed 10 interceptions in high school football where teams elect to run the ball way, way more than they pass. Take his 10 picks for what it's worth, but it's impressive nonetheless.
Okay, okay, so he is playing against 1A talent, that's why he looks so good, right? You are absolutely correct, he isn't playing against the most marquee players from the state of Maryland. But the ceiling on this young athlete is definitely worth the scholarship. And although the talent pool may be few and far between in Western Maryland, it did produce a little known wide receiver from Dunbar High School named Tavon Austin. One thing's for sure, the Big Ten competition is slightly better than his 1A foes.
There was no pass blocking in this film and most of his runs featured him in the option, having Johnson run in-motion and get handed the ball in stride. I'd like to see him in a more standard, half-back set.
2015 outlook: As of now we are unsure of what side of the ball Johnson will be gearing up for. His athleticism and versatility makes him a real threat on both defense and offense. Although he could contribute immediately on special teams, it would benefit Johnson immensely if he were to redshirt and figure out which position to focus intently on.
Longterm outlook: Johnson can be the dark horse, hidden jewel from this recruiting class. He has the tools to be a star, if he continues to develop and become accustomed to the higher level of play. He could play alongside either Deltron Sands or Will Likely in the future, depending on what side of the ball he plays on.
Looking at his film, I was particularly impressed by his persistence. On a few highlights, I thought the play was over and then, without warning, Johnson was dancing past opponents on his way to a touchdown. He refused to go down easy and just give up on the play.
He also seems like quite the humble player. "I bursted into tears when he gave me that offer. It’s been a dream of mine to be able to go to a school like that. Coach Edsall made it a reality for me. I’m so thankful for that," Johnson told the Washington Post upon being awarded an offer from the Terps. Now he's a part of the class of 2015, with a bright future ahead of him.