Welcome to our newest series “10 for 10,” which will help us countdown to kick off. The Ducks are just seven days away from opening day vs Southern Utah at Autzen Stadium. For the next 10 days, we will be posting our projections for the upcoming season.
Let’s get started, here is the No. 7 projection of the 2017 season:
#7 - JOHNNY BE GOOD, REALLY GOOD
Oregon true freshman Johnny Johnson III is the next great wide receiver in Eugene. The Chandler, Arizona product is poised to make an impact during his first year of college and has been impressing throughout fall training camp.
At 6-foot and 190+ pounds, I love the way Johnson plays football. He has great hands, solid burst off the ball, and football intelligence. Not to mention, JJ3 has a real violence to his game.
Just watch him throw a block for his teammates and you will see his passion and desire. He reminds me of former Pittsburgh Steeler great Hines Ward. Ward ran impeccable routes and had unreal hands. Yet, his greatest asset was his blocking ability.
Ward didn’t have overwhelming speed, but he may be the greatest blocking receiver in NFL history. I’ll pump the brakes on the comparisons, but Johnson is legit. You can watch his highlight reel at rivals.com for illustration purposes.
In high school, the rankings were scattered across the board. Scouts and recruiting experts came to a consensus that he was a 3-star player. He was the No. 2 WR from Arizona according to scout.com. Johnson was No. 11 according to ESPN’s big board. Everyone else ranked him somewhere in between.
Here is a list of the programs that offered him a scholarship:
Idaho, Michigan State, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, South Dakota State, UNLV, Utah State and Wyoming.
After watching JJ3 for the last three weeks at Oregon’s fall training camp, nobody has been more impressive on the offensive side. He has the skills to play right now. The best part for Johnson, the starting quarterback has noticed.
“Johnny Johnson on the outside, he's done a really great job,” Justin Herbert said without hesitation. “They've stepped up. They know what they're doing.”
It’s all about how he handled the playbook install as the final step prior to the season. Former safety turned receiver Brenden Schooler has been improving all camp, Dillon Mitchell has been very solid and Charles Nelson is on another level. Aside from these three, Johnson is competing against Alex Ofodile and Darrin McNeal to name a few.
The depth is not there yet for Oregon. Therefore, it’s not a matter of if, but when JJ3 will get his opportunity. With head coach Willie Taggart, he could be starting by the time the season begins.
I just want to see our guys go out and play with some passion, enthusiasm. Play smart, tough football and guys look like they’re having fun. If our guys can do that, good things will happen to our football team.
When Nelson leaves Oregon after the year, there will be a vacancy on the offense. With the incoming talent of the 2018 class, JJ3 has a head start to becoming the next great wide receiver at Oregon. The ability and will are there, now it’s a matter of putting it all together on Saturday’s. His first test arrives one week from today.
THE AARON JUDGE RULING
JJ3 will begin his collegiate career quickly, starting after two games. His first start will come on the road against Wyoming. Johnson will conclude his true freshman campaign with 41 catches for 658 yards (16.0 YPC) and three scores. Yet, the freshman will set a precedence for the running game with his aggressive blocking. Johnson will help Oregon’s rushing attack to the No. 1 rank in the Pac-12 this season. My last projection for Johnson is that he will appear on SportsCenter’s “SC Top 10” twice for his jaw-dropping grabs this year. His stats may not jump off the page in 2017, but it’s more about getting him experience and comfort while in the fire. He could be the next great wide receiver at Oregon. He has a long road ahead but seems ready for the journey. Nevertheless, Johnny Johnson III will make it fun to watch.
Part 5 of 10 for 10 will be published on Sunday, right here at ATQ!