Coach Speak: Former NFL player talks top-100 Clemson target

Coach Speak: Former NFL player talks top-100 Clemson target


Coach Speak: Former NFL player talks top-100 Clemson target


St. Louis (Mo.) De Smet four-star cornerback Jakailin “JK” Johnson is one of several class of 2021 prospects that picked up an offer from Clemson last week.

Cornerbacks coach Mike Reed (pictured above) dropped by De Smet Jesuit High School on Friday to convey the offer to Johnson, a consensus top-100 recruit ranked as high as the nation’s No. 3 cornerback and No. 29 overall prospect by Rivals.

“Coach Reed came through,” De Smet head coach Robert Steeples told The Clemson Insider. “He kind of talked about his knowledge of the position and how he thought JK fit their position. Obviously that’s the case with a lot of universities, they saw Jakailin’s skillset. But he came and spoke with me, kind of told me what they’re looking for, had done a little research on JK and so he wanted me to pass along to JK that they were extending an offer to him.”

Johnson (6-1, 170), who holds two dozen total offers, was grateful for the Tigers joining his long list of college opportunities.

“JK’s a pretty calm kid, so he just told me thank you,” Steeples said. “He always, after almost every offer, he sends me a thank you. I just tell him, ‘JK, you’re the man, you’re the one putting in the work. You don’t have to thank me, just keep putting in the work and stay humble and hungry.’ The gratitude is always appreciated, but at the end of the day it’s because of the work he’s putting in.”

Steeples is a former NFL cornerback who was a member of the St. Louis Rams (2013), Minnesota Vikings (2013-14), Kansas City Chiefs (2014) and Dallas Cowboys (2014-15). He signed with Missouri in 2008 and then transferred to Memphis before his final season of eligibility in 2012.

Steeples explained what the school that lands Johnson’s signature will be getting in him as a player and as a person off the field.

“What they’re going to get in him as far as a player, they’re going to get a complete corner,” he said. “He has elite speed and great length. He can press you up and be real physical at the line of scrimmage. He can also play off the ball and be real savvy with his off man coverage. Also what separates him is he’s extremely physical in the run game. He’ll stick his nose in there and hit you. As far as off the field development wise, he’s a student of the game. He knows it’s one thing to be blessed with the amount of talent he has, but he’s also a student of the game, and so that’ll go a long way for him as well.

“And then character wise, he’s a kid — he’s a very lighthearted kid, pretty easy going, doesn’t go out of his way to be the loudest guy in the room. So, with him you’ll just get a lighthearted kid off the field.”

According to Steeples, Johnson intends to pull the trigger on a commitment whenever he feels compelled to do so and has no specific timing in mind for his college choice.

“A lot of our kids would like to make their decision before their senior season,” Steeples said. “But I think he wants to make that decision when it feels right. So, we don’t know when that time is, but that would be my answer — he wants to make his decision when it feels right and he’s as informed as possible.”

Steeples and Johnson are getting ready to start mapping out his travel plans for the spring and talk about the schools he is interested in checking out.

“What we said we’d do is after signing day, him and I would sit down and kind of talk about his spring plans, re-evaluate who’s come through to see him and stuff like that,” Steeples said. “So, that’s something that we’ll regroup on as far as his recruitment here in the coming weeks.”

Steeples named a few of the schools that have been recruiting Johnson the hardest.

“I can say the schools that have been on him pretty hard as far as their efforts is Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma,” he said. “Top-tier schools like that have been on him pretty heavy. But I tell my kids, go where the fit is. Don’t go for the flare, go for the fit.”

Johnson was named a MaxPreps All-American after recording seven interceptions as a junior last season and leading his team to the Missouri Class 6 state championship. He is committed to play in the 2021 Under Armour All-America Game.

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