In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet an elite speedster who will add explosive playmaking to the Canes offense: Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Dillard 4-star RB Christopher Johnson.
In an effort to add explosiveness to the middling Canes offense, Miami turned their recruiting attention to Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Dillard RB Christopher Johnson.
A 5’11” 178lb player, Johnson is known for his ELITE speed. A 2-sport athlete, with the other sport clearly being track, Johnson’s speed plays well anywhere. He’s the defending State Champion in both the 100M and 200M sprint events, with verified times of 10.45 and 20.78, respectively. When you have speed like that, it has to lead the conversation. Johnson also ran the anchor leg for Dillard’s State Championship 4x100M relay team as a sophomore, so his speed isn’t by any means new.
On the football field, Johnson has been flashing his elite speed for years. He got snaps at both RB and WR as a junior for Dillard, helping the Panthers to a 10-2 record in Florida’s 7A Classification. Then, when he transitioned to the track, Johnson won the double gold in the 100 and 200 as listed above.
After his strong season in 2021, Johnson finally saw movement to his football recruiting profile. Taking a tour of colleges, he visited Rutgers in March of 2022. Johnson received an offer and committed on the spot to the Scarlet Knights, the first team to offer him a scholarship. That commitment didn’t last long, however, as when Georgia offered him a month later, Johnson decommitted from Rutgers. Ah, the wonderful world of recruiting.
With that Georgia offer (and solid film from his 2021 season circulating), Johnson’s offer list exploded. Included in the deluge of offers was Miami, and that’s a good thing. Johnson is absolutely the kind of player Miami should be targeting.
Looking to further improve his recruiting profile, Johnson took unofficial visits for team camps at schools all over the Southeast. Tennessee, Alabama, and Miami were atop that list, and with those moves, Johnson’s profile continued to rise. Johnson dropped a top 6 of Alabama, Clemson, FSU, Miami, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M in July, and that’s when things really kicked off.
Johnson took several unofficial visits to Miami this fall, and one to Ole Miss as well. While starring for Dillard, Johnson set up and took Official Visits to Ole Miss, Clemson, and Miami. A coaches visit from Penn State was mixed in there as well, but this really came down to Miami’s desire (or lack thereof) to get Johnson in this recruiting class. And, while there are and were other options available at RB in this class, Miami finally made the move to lock Johnson down, and the talented and speedy back committed to Miami fresh off a visit to The U just 10 days before the Early Signing Period.
And a last note: Johnson is teammates with fellow 2023 Miami signee DB Antione Jackson, and was on the same team with both Jackson and Miami freshman DE Nyjalik Kelly last year at Dillard.
On the 247sports composite, Johnson is a 4-star prospect, the #19 RB nationally, #53 in the State of Florida, and #293 player overall in this class.
Johnson committed to Miami over finalists Ole Miss and Clemson from a strong list of 34 offers from around the country.
As A Player
I’m going to start this part of things exactly where you think I am: Johnson is an elite speedster with blazing speed. 2022 State Champion in the 100M and 200M sprints, and anchor for the 4x100 relay. That kind of speed isn’t able to be taught. You either have it or you don’t, and Johnson most definitely has it.
Johnson’s speed is matched by his quickness (which, again, are different movement traits). He’s able to find his way into small spaces and press any crease in the defense vertically on the field. Johnson has decent vision and uses it well on the field. Johnson is also a tougher runner than you might think for someone with his build and speed. He’ll run the ball inside with ferocity, but that shouldn’t be his main usage moving forward.
The best thing about Johnson, apart from his elite speed is his one-cut style of running the ball. There isn’t a lot of dancing around; Johnson will follow the play, looking for the opportunity to get vertical on the field and then use his elite speed. This is true of him as a receiver on screens as well.
Johnson has decent hands but can work on them in the future. He is a mismatch nightmare in the slot for linebackers and safeties. They’re simply not fast enough to keep up with him, and have to give him tons of cushion. If they don’t, he’s gone.
And, I know I’m making a lot of Johnson’s speed, but it needs to be said. Johnson can and has outrun angles from other fast players routinely during his HSFB career. And, unlike some players, he’s not doing it against bad competition; Dillard plays in the 2nd largest FHSAA classification, and faces off against teams with FBS recruits on the other sideline on a weekly basis. Johnson is running away from guys who run away from other guys. Seriously, he’s FAST fast, and if you blink, he can be gone.
At 5’11” 178lbs, Johnson isn’t the biggest player in the world. But his lack of size is a boon for his speed. While it helps there, Johnson’s lack of size is a hindrance to him in pass protection. But as a 3rd down/scat type back, Johnson likely won’t be asked to stay in to block against blitzers often, if ever. But, if he wants to start he’ll be asked to do that, he’ll need to develop his body and his technique to be a passable player in that area of the game.
Johnson is also a weapon in the return game, unsurprising with the kind of speed he possesses. Like a couple other signees in this class, it would not surprise me if Johnson was able to make an early impact as a return man on specials.
Here’s another eval of Johnson by 247sports Director of Scouting Andrew Ivins:
One of the fastest prospects in the class of 2023. Took gold as a junior at Florida’s 3A track meet in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes. Also anchored a 4x100 team that captured first at states as a sophomore. Has been utilized as a gadget player at the prep level getting snaps primarily at running back, but also wide receiver in a spread attack. A bit of a one-cut-and-go type of ball carrier with obvious home run ability given foot speed. Does a nice job of getting out of trouble in the backfield and has a knack for making the first defender miss, at least on Friday nights. Vision is somewhat of a strength as he understands how to quickly find daylight. When it comes to catching passes, has shown that he can track the ball over his shoulder and create separation on deeper routes with his extra gear. Owns valuable experience in the screen game, as well. However, must add some functional strength/body armor over the next few years as contact balance is something that needs to improve, especially if he wants to find success running in between the tackles at the Power Five level. Not one that offers much value in pass protection, either. Overall, should be viewed as a potential weapon on Saturdays that offensive coordinators can get creative with. Could thrive in a variety of different systems, but likely to be at his best when he’s getting the ball in space. Profile also suggests that he might be able to make the transition to defense if things were to not work out at running back.
- Speed. Speed. SPEED.
- Return game prowess
- Thin build
- Needs to add strength
- Inconsistent hands when used as a receiver
Johnson is a player with too much speed to keep on the sideline. He should be used in spots early in his career, with his role growing as he’s able to handle the increased work load. Johnson could end up starting at RB, KR, and/or PR in his career, and be a solid or better player at each position.
With Miami’s lack of depth at RB, and lack of explosion in the kick return game, I would expect to see Johnson hit the field earlier than later in his career. Again, it will probably be as a role player at first, but he could end up being a foundational player to the Miami offense (and return game) down the line.
Johnson’s ability to play multiple positions, as well as slot receiver in certain packages if needed, paired with his elite speed gives him incredible value to the roster. If he is able to be a starter and earn his way into even honorable mention All-Conference status, that will be a win for Miami, because that means Johnson’s speed will have created several highlight plays along the way.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.