In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a Miami legacy with size and skill to blaze his own trail at The U: Miami (FL) Killian LB Tyler Johnson.
In the course of looking for talented Linebackers in the 2021 recruiting class, Miami turned to a familiar school and a familiar family for one of the spots: Miami Killian LB Tyler Johnson.
The younger brother of former All-ACC Safety Jaquan, Tyler is a big bodied LB who has played at multiple schools. He started his HS career at Killian, transferred down south to Homestead (FL) South Dade, and has returned to Killian for his senior year. If “Johnson from Killian” sounds familiar, it should; that’s the school where his brother Jaquan was a 4-time 1st team All-Dade performer.
While he does have the connection of family to Miami, Tyler is a player who has his own reputation as a player to propel him to a P5 school. As noted above, he’s played at multiple schools, and was at South Dade with a gang of high level P5 recruits when that program was enjoying levels of success they haven’t seen since Antrel Rolle starred for South Dade in the early 2000s. But do not think Johnson was standing idly by while others helped South Dade to that success; Johnson was named 1st Team All-Dade as a junior for South Dade in 2019 after posting 36 tackles, 4 sacks, and an interception.
But, as a known commodity long before his standout junior season, Johnson was a name the Miami coaches knew and wanted to add to this class. The 6’2” 200lb linebacker had performed well against upperclassmen at multiple camps on Miami’s campus, including 3 of Miami’s spotlight recruiting event: Paradise Camp. I was at the event when Johnson was a then-HS freshman, and he looked and played the part of a much older player. So, it made sense Miami would push for him to commit to the program early.
The recruitment was a bit long, since it spanned multiple years, but Johnson had clarity of mind quickly when it was time to make a choice. He attended a Junior Day recruiting event at Miami on February 3rd and committed to the Canes that same day. And while his offer list might be a bit light for a player coming to Miami, I think the fact that he’s the younger brother of a recent Miami standout and thereby likely had his mind set on coming to Miami as well scared some other teams off from offering.
Oh well. Their loss. Tyler Johnson is a Cane.
On the 247sports composite, Johnson is a 3-star prospect, the #31 OLB nationally, #57 in the State of Florida, and #528 player overall in this class.
Johnson committed to Miami over offers from Georgia and Pittsburgh from a list of 5 scholarship offers from around the country
As A Player
Like many linebackers in South Florida, Johnson was initially used as an edge rusher. That position has higher value to a HSFB team than a traditional linebacker does in most cases, so putting Johnson there was a signal early on that he was a special player.
At 6’2” 215lbs, Johnson has grown into having a prototypical body for a Linebacker. Sure, he could gain a couple pounds, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of his quickness. Johnson uses his physicality well, pressuring QBs and impacting the run game going forward. Like many, he’ll need to work on his coverage skills, but that is something that can be taught over time.
Additionally, the finer points of Linebacker technique will need to be addressed with Johnson when he gets on campus. But, again, this is something that can be learned, and multiple players on the current roster, most notably Sam Brooks, had to do the same when they transitioned from primarily being an edge rusher to stand up LB at the college level.
Johnson is more quick than he is fast and has good pass rushing moves. This will probably translate to him being a solid blitzer from the 2nd level of Miami’s defense in the future. More of a run-stopping player, Johnson will also need to work on his man and zone pass coverage skills, because playing in space and playing “go get the ball” are very different things.
- Pass rushing
- Physical build
- Transition from rusher to linebacker
- Pass coverage (zone and man)
- Average speed
Note: changing this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player.
With many blue chip players at the Linebacker position in front of him, Johnson will likely struggle to get on the field early in his Miami career. He’ll likely need a redshirt season, with the majority of his snaps in the following years coming on special teams.
Johnson will have a chance to push towards the 2-deep rotation as a 4th or 5th year player at Miami. This could happen sooner if everything comes together, but that would also mean he’d have passed over several players on the roster or in this same recruiting class, and that’s a stretch for me to call at this point.
Johnson will be a good program player, and raise the floor for the talent on the roster. He probably won’t reach the All-ACC heights his brother attained in his time at Miami, but Tyler could be a nice player with intermittently impactful performance for the Canes in the future.
Short story long, look for Johnson ‘s biggest impact at Miami coming 3+ years down the line, when he’s developed a bit more, and when the roster could become more amenable to him finding playing time on a unit other than special teams.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.