The Oregon Ducks coaching staff has an eye for talent. Sometimes, that talent comes from the “third wheel” in a very good wideout group at a prominent high school. That is the scenario I wrote about regarding freshman wide receiver Daewood Davis from Florida.
Oregon coaches replicated that feat by plucking Johnny Johnson III (JJ3) from Chandler, Arizona during the 2017 recruiting cycle. JJ3 was a part of the potent three-headed monster receiving group led by N’Keal Harry (Arizona State–2016) and Kolby Taylor (Oregon State–2017).
Chandler High School is a large school located in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona. It counts among its many famous alumni Brett Hundley, Markus Wheaton, and former University of Oregon great Dion Jordan.
JJ3 was a very productive wide receiver in high school, amassing over 1,800 all-purpose yards during his tenure. He blew up as a senior with 1,274 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns, according to maxpreps.com.
It appears that JJ3 attended a Nike-sponsored testing event where Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, and Quickness (SPARQ) were evaluated and scored. A SPARQ score of 100 is the threshold of a great athlete. A score of 125-130 is “freak” territory, and anything over 130 is rare. You don’t see many scores over 130 in a given year. The recruiting website ESPN.com seems to confirm his claim on JJ3’s Hudl.com page, and, though the scores are slightly different, the individual testing results for each discipline are the same. There is little debate here: with a score of 111-113, Johnny Johnson III is a great athlete.
I have not seen any information regarding JJ3’s arm length or hand size. However, for a kid of his dimensions, I’m guessing his arm length is 31″ to 32″ and his hand size is 9″ to 9 1/2″.
On film, JJ3 demonstrates an advanced route tree for a high school kid. There were slants, sidelines, up and across’s, posts, go routes and wheels out of the backfield. He does a really nice job of catching the ball away from body (thumbs in or out as the situation dictates) and has a catching radius of a much larger receiver than his 6’1 frame.
Deep Route Skills
JJ3 consistently catches the ball in his hands and away from his body, even on a deep seam route.
Deep Turn In
In the video above, Johnson III establishes inside position at the line of scrimmage on a deep turn in pattern.
Toe Drag on the Sideline
The toe drag on the sideline is practiced by wide receivers but it actually doesn’t happen that much in games. Here, JJ3 does a nice job of getting both feet down and dragging them out of bounds after the catch.
JJ3’s physicality jumps out at you on tape. He’s one of the most aggressive WR’s I have seen in terms of blocking downfield for his teammates and running through (or over) an opponent, as he does in the clip above.
Lays Out for the Catch
Another Layout Catch
I have never seen a high school kid lay out for a catch as much as JJ3 does in his highlight clips. The two clips above were recorded during games, and I doubt that is all of them. And if he’s laying out during games, I’m sure he’s doing it in practice too. This is impressive and very unusual.
Works the Middle of the Field
In the video above, JJ3 works the middle of the field in an up and across route. He comes out of his break with his shoulders squared up, not giving the cornerback any indication of which way he is going to break. He then looks the ball in before turning upfield. This is textbook middle-of-the-field possession receiving.
Who He Reminds Me Of…
Devante Adams of the Green Bay Packers. They share similar triangle numbers and skill set characteristics. Both are exceptional athletes that can make tough catches look easy. Both Adams and JJ3 played early in their careers and both are natural “hands” receivers. They can climb the ladder and out leap most defensive backs due to their athleticism and can “high point” with the best of the them.
Johnny Johnson III is a well-built athlete with good (not great) size for the position. However he “plays bigger” than he is because he is a physical guy on the perimeter. He projects best on the boundary due to his lack of elite speed. He is aggressive and willing to block for his teammates and seems to relish it. His video is the only high school video I have ever seen that mentioned the number of “pancakes” in his season statistics.
JJ3 demonstrates excellent hands and has a catch radius far exceeding his wingspan due to his willingness to layout for poorly thrown balls. There are several clips of him doing this. He is a great athlete (113 SPARQ) and is solid in all phases of his receiving game. Like all high school players, he needs further development of his route tree, but he seems to go in and come out of his breaks sharply without rounding them off. He is not a game breaker or a guy with elite speed that will take the top off of a defense, but he does have adequate speed for the position.
Johnson III will be a solid wide receiver at Oregon. Not flashy or put up incredible numbers, but a very reliable wideout who may very well turn out to be a better pro than college player.
Michael Kelly “ChicoDuck”
Top Photo credit: Hudl.com