Marcus Johnson left his mark on Slippery Rock University’s football program. He leaves The Rock as one of the greatest receivers in program history.
It wasn’t always easy for Johnson though. After a successful high school career at University Prep in Pittsburgh, he went on to play at Thiel College, an NCAA Division III school in Pennsylvania. After a successful freshman season, Johnson transferred to Division II Slippery Rock University. The transition was a tough one for Johnson at first.
“Going into my sophomore year I was kind of going through a rough patch learning the program and everything,” Johnson said. “Once it got going, it really took off going up there.”
Boy did it take off. In his junior year, Johnson caught 54 passes for 898 yards and 13 touchdowns.
This past season was his best by far. As a senior, Johnson caught 72 passes for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns, which was first in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
He also set the single-season record for all-purpose yards with 1,993, showing he can also make an impact on special teams. Johnson added three more touchdowns, two kickoff returns and one punt return, to make his season total 17 in just 11 games.
Johnson leaves tied for first in program history in receiving touchdowns with 28. He also ranks fifth in receiving yards with 2,238 and sixth in receptions with 133. Johnson only played three seasons with The Rock and two as the primary target.
He is now hoping to make the same kind of impact on an NFL team.
This past week, Johnson got to show off his skills at the College Gridiron Showcase in Addison, Texas. The showcase features some of the top seniors of college football. The showcase provides exposure and the opportunity to be evaluated by professional scouts and executives.
Johnson believes his ability to go up and get the ball and work ethic are things the NFL scouts are going to like about him.
“I have great ball skills in the air,” he said. “Just the way I compete. Not a lot of guys have my work ethic. I feel like I really can make a difference in the league the way I go get the ball in the air.”
Johnson was one of two Division II All-Americans at a showcase filled with Division I talent. That alone shows shows how hard he works.
Johnson said he believes the biggest transition from switching from college to pros will be the speed of the game.
“Probably speed of the game. It’s a lot more fast. It’s a lot more learning. Learning the technique. Learning the defenses. Really looking forward to learning those things.”
What might we see Johnson doing after football? Johnson majored in Interdisciplinary Studies. He wants to help kids in his community who don’t have a father figure in their lives.
Marcus Johnson Scouting Report
Johnson has decent size for a wide receiver at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds. He can add strength to his frame to beat NFL-level corners off the line of scrimmage. Most corners he plays know the type of threat he is and therefore give him a little bit of a cushion, but that won’t happen in the NFL.
He is a good route-runner, who does an excellent job at changing speeds to make his cuts and get open. Once the ball is in the air, he high points it and usually comes down with the catch. This is an ode to his great ball skills. When he gets the ball in his hands, Johnson is elusive and hard to get to.
Because of his good route-running and change of speeds, Johnson is a deep threat, but can also do some damage underneath. His ability to win 50-50 balls make him a redzone threat. Slippery Rock continually threw to him on fades, slants and out routes to get him open for a touchdown.
Not only is Johnson a great wide receiver, he also makes a lot of plays returning kicks and punts. His elusiveness with the ball in his hands comes into play here as well. He routinely has big gains in the return game and is a threat to score any time he touches the ball.
Johnson is a great candidate to be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft for a variety of reasons. He is a productive receiver with great ball skills. Running routes won’t be a problem for him either. Teams will want to see what he can do with the ball in his hands. To top everything off, he is an ace on special teams, which is a plus heading into the NFL Draft season.
Full interview for Marcus Johnson:
Featured image by Jon Holtz
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