A Big Hit: Will Johnson Commits to the Hokies

Virginia Tech added a versatile defender with a LPD mentality to its 2021 recruiting class.

Will Johnson made a visit to Virginia Tech in January.

While recruitniks and Hokies watched with bated breath as prized five-star recruit TreVeyon Henderson announced his commitment to Ohio State, Will Johnson was getting ready to make his choice.

Although his visit to Blacksburg didn't prompt any banners hung outside houses, Johnson still felt a connection to Virginia Tech.

"They made me feel at home there," said Johnson.

The Leaonardstown, MD product chose the Hokies over Minnesota, Boston College, Pitt, Louisville, and Maryland among other programs.

The 247Sports Composite ranks Johnson as a 3-star (0.8405) safety, 68th nationally, and the No. 27 overall player in the state of Maryland for the 2021 cycle. And last season at St. Mary's Ryken HS, Johnson earned recognition as WCAC Metro Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Based on what head coach Aaron Brady said, Johnson might've won the award on the offensive side of the ball too. The playmaker routinely drew multiple coverage in a part-time wideout role. In fact, Johnson played safety, linebacker, wide receiver, quarterback, running back, kick returner, and punter ... all in the same game.

At Virginia Tech, Johnson is a prime candidate for the whip linebacker spot โ€” a hybrid between a safety and an outside linebacker. "They think that's going to fit me really well," said Johnson. "Just my physicality and my speed together, it's the perfect match."

"I think he's a football player," said Brady.

"The overall person he is as a team player is phenomenal. At the next level that's a big deal. He doesn't care about how many stars or how many likes he gets. Sure, he'll tweet out offers and was excited to share his commitment to Tech, but that's not what it's about for him. He just wants to play ball."

The first thing that jumps out to you when you watch Johson play is his physicality. The word violent comes to mind.

"You can't teach that," said Brady. "Some guys have it and some guys don't. Some guys just really love hitting people."

But, it wasn't always like that. Early in Johnson's recruitment, college scouts didn't think he was physical enough as a defender.

"We knew [he was physical], but it just didn't show up on film," said Brady.

Brady said it was actually an interaction with former Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster that flipped the switch for Johnson. "One thing coach Foster said to him last year that resonated with him this past season was 'You need to be cracking pads out there.'"

Johnson pairs his demonstrative physicality with blazing speed in the open field. At a recruit camp this summer in Blacksburg, the 6-2" 200 pounder clocked a 4.5" 40-yard dash. His speed shows up on film too. He flies in on safety blitzes, but can also drop back to play a more 'center-field' safety role. It's the kind of versatility, size and speed combination required at the whip.

From the get-go as a freshman, Brady knew Johnson had Power Five potential.

"I had a lot of division one players over time, so to see the things he did that were different and special; you start to notice those similarities with guys that go on to play big time college football. Then he had the work ethic, and he really cares about school."

It was one play in particular, however, that really made Brady's jaw drop.

"Freshman year first scrimmage up at the football Hall of Fame stadium in Canton, he may have been 14 years old at the time," said Brady. "He caught a pass against Canton-McKinley who's a big-time team. He made a one-handed catch that was just stupid โ€” I mean it was stupid crazy. You saw him as a freshman and were saying to yourself 'man, that kid's gonna be a beast.'"

Tech was fortunate to retain Johnson's interest after its defensive coaching changes.

"They couldn't tell me upfront who they were gonna hire, but they did say that whoever they hired was gonna be pretty equal in comparison to scheme and stuff like that," said Johnson. "Obviously with losing Bud you're losing arguably the best defensive coordinator to ever do it, so you can't just replace that. But I feel really good about coach [Justin] Hamilton being promoted."

The feeling appears mutual from Hamilton.

"Once it got to his sophomore year a lot of college coaches were coming to watch him play," said Brady. "They'd say 'he's just as good as the guy we got now.' And it's not going to stop. When he gets to college he's just going to get better. He's a really hard worker. He's a relentless worker."

"Once guys saw him and got around him they started to realize 'woah, this guy's is special.'"

Comments

Nice write up Sam. "Johnson played safety, linebacker, wide receiver, quarterback, running back, kick returner, and punter ... all in the same game." and "6-2" 200 pounder clocked a 4.5" 40"
Nice...

โ€œI'm addicted to placebos. I could quit, but it wouldn't matterโ€~steven wright

No way a white boy is that fast, lol

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
โ€œI served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

Beck is, but he is not a D1 level FB player unfortunately

*Not about your assessment, about your demeanor when bring that assesment into this thread

His film is surprising to say the least when he gets in open space

My best friend is as white as can be and ran a 4.5 40 in high school. All State lacrosse GOALIE.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

But, can he play TE?

HTHokie93

But, can he play TEQB?

FTFY

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

An all around player from central VA ended up at running back at Penn St, and had a decent NFL career, Robinson? maybe? had more punting return yards than punt yards one game, and had a rushing stat that was more than his other stats combined. He was also their FG kicker.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Thank you! Appreciate the compliments. He's a...uhm... sneaky athlete

Johnson played safety, linebacker, wide receiver, quarterback, running back, kick returner, and punter ... all in the same game

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

I'm sorry...is he the Bugs Bunny of football?

"I think he's a football player," said Brady.

whew, good news here.

May he get cracking with pads and go Ham!

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May he have half the heart this Will Johns(t)on had

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

We may have found our next ball of butcher knives. Some of those blocks and hits are Motivate-66,000-fans power.

Click here to destroy wall.

But how many trucks does he push?

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My type of recruit - wants to be at Tech and possibly underrated.

..... sooo is it just me or does this guy look like a skinny Dax?

Sounds like a good fit. I could see based on where this guy played ball (I'm assuming Leonardtown H.S.) - which incidentally is kinda in the middle of nowhere in extreme southern MD - that even in this day he could go a little under the radar, with not much fanfare. All I remember is playing a scrimmage down there in high school (from north of Baltimore) and asking my coach why the heck we were going so far for basically a practice game. It was a nice time, though, and they treated us to free concessions after the game, which helped for the long ride back home.

Welcome home, Will!

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

Tape looks 4star to me - kid is an athlete. With the right mentality he could be a really valuable and versatile player.

Whoa. I liked this get from the Tech coaching staff from the start, but I'm really surprised by his speed on film. I'm interested to see where he's used once he gets to Blacksburg. I could see him at safety or a linebacker spot.

whip linebacker is what the coaching staff has communicated to him

Good Lord! How many DEs did he de-cleat in that video?

"Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our heart with tolerance."
-Stan Lee

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

Besides the hard hat mentality and the fact that he really wants to be here, gotta love the size and speed at the high school level. Being a former safety, we might want to keep him right there, patrolling the middle of the field, and being an intimidating force to receivers coming across the middle, kinda like that Kam Chancellor fella. Could also be a real leader on the defense as a safety.

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

Well, shit, that dude went to my high school. Considering we didn't even have a football team when I was there, that's pretty awesome.

And Sam, it's Leonardtown, not Leonardstown, MD.

โ€œYou got one guy going boom, one guy going whack, and one guy not getting in the endzone.โ€
โ€• John Madden (describing VT's offense?)

Yeah...I know. I realized that the second it was published. I got yelled at by one of my best friends that's from there. Hand up y'all my bad.