The Miami Hurricanes’ quest for a quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class has been the focus of conversation for a while. And, at this point in the cycle, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: Miami is all-in on Michael Johnson Jr.
A talented 4-star recruit, Johnson Jr. plays his HS ball at Eugene (OR) Sheldon HS. Standing 6’4” 190lbs, Johnson Jr. has the size teams typically want from a QB. And, if Miami having offered him isn’t enough proof of that, Johnson Jr. claims 27 scholarship offers from all over America at this time, so it’s not just us.
As has been widely discussed, the elephant in the room is that Johnson Jr’s father, Michael Johnson Sr., is the Wide Receivers coach for the Oregon Ducks. Due to that familial relationship, many people (reasonably, in my estimation) thought that the younger Johnson would be a mortal lock to join his father with the Ducks.
But that’s not going to happen.
On Sunday night, Oregon got a commitment from their #1 QB target — 3-star Cale Millen (Snoqualmie, WA). With 5 non-senior QBs on the roster, Millen could be the 6th guy in the QB room in Eugene next year. Sure, there’s a chance starting QB Justin Herbert could leave for the NFL after this year, which would bring the number to 5, but in either case the number to me proves one point: Oregon is only taking 1 QB in this class, and it’s not going to be Johnson Jr.
Even though his dad coaches for the Ducks, Johnson Jr. has moved all over the country due to his father’s coaching career (which has spanned multiple colleges and the NFL), so the fact that the younger Johnson isn’t enamored with the school where his father works isn’t a red flag. It’s life. He’s not from there, and likes other teams, which can happen.
That brings us back to Miami. The Canes sent QB coach Jon Richt out to Oregon 5 weeks in a row (!!!) during the fall to see Johnson Jr. Then, they’ve sent CJR back to Oregon AGAIN in the spring evaluation period to see the talented QB.
I’ve been looking to see if Miami has contacted or visited other QBs this year, and beyond some surface level contact with players who are unlikely to come to Coral Gables, that connection simply doesn’t exist. A couple players have offers, a couple players have visited (last year) and didn’t get offered, but in the face of all that, Miami has been steadfast in their connection to and interest in Johnson Jr.
Following an unofficial visit to Coral Gables with his family, Johnson Jr. released a top 7, which included Miami, and the Canes are widely thought to be running at the top of MJJ’s recruitment.
Even with Miami being the pretty clear leaders in Johnson Jr’s recruitment, there is still work to be done. In recent weeks, the Nebraska Cornhuskers with favorite-son/new coach Scott Frost have been increasing their contact with Johnson Jr. to try and make a push for the Under Armour All-American. Frost seems to like Johnson Jr’s dual threat ability, and there could be a scheme fit there for Frost’s up-tempo offense.
The Nebraska 247sports site reported a further connection for Johnson Jr. to the Cornhuskers: his older sister Taylor is a track athlete at Nebraska. Obviously, siblings don’t have to go to the same school, but that is an interesting anecdote if nothing else.
Johnson Jr. is still planning visits for the future, but Miami has to keep working their obvious and palpable connection. With Nebraska trying to push, and other teams still engaged in this recruitment, the Canes have to continue to work with Johnson and, in the end, get him to commit to Miami.
There is plenty of room for optimism in this recruitment, both when considering the player and the coach recruiting him. By all accounts, Johnson Jr. likes Miami, and the Canes are the leaders in his recruitment. Such has been reported by writers and analysts covering Miami, Oregon, and Nebraska, so there’s gotta be truth in that. On top of that, Jon Richt has closed on every QB target the Canes have had over the last 2 years.
In 2017, Jon Richt closed on QBs N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon. In 2018, Richt closed on Artur Sitkowski, dropped him (smart move), then upgraded and flipped Jarren Williams from Kentucky. Even though Stikowski was deemed to be less than Miami caliber over the course of time, Jon Richt still went out and got him to commit when teams all over the country were recruiting him. That counts for something.
So, in the 2 previous years, Jon Richt is 4/4 in getting the guy he wants to commit to Miami. 100% success rate is pretty good. The sample size is low, sure, but the fact still remains: Jon Richt gets his guys.
For the 2019, Miami is all-in on Michael Johnson Jr. And, despite what might seem to be disadvantages, when you dig a bit deeper, Miami should be in a good spot to get their man at QB this year.
And they better, because if they don’t, who knows where Miami will turn for the QB in this recruiting class.