Coach talks Clemson’s interest in Florida corner, compares him to NFL DB

Coach talks Clemson’s interest in Florida corner, compares him to NFL DB

Recruiting

Coach talks Clemson’s interest in Florida corner, compares him to NFL DB

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Last week, Clemson cornerbacks coach Mike Reed stopped by Wharton High School, home to one of the fastest-rising prospects in the country in 2023 four-star cornerback Dijon Johnson.

The Clemson Insider caught up with Johnson’s head coach, Mike Williams, and found out more about Reed’s visit to their campus last week.

“We have a good relationship with the Clemson staff and I think it started with Coach (Brent) Venables and Todd Bates,” Williams said. “I know they are not with the staff anymore, moving on to Oklahoma. They kind of got the ball rolling and Coach Reed stepped in and he’s been kind of the point man on that. He’s been doing a good job, just his presence in general in our area of Tampa.”

“I just think they’re doing their due diligence. They said he’s an offer-level guy. They said he’s a guy they want to offer and things like that. We’ll see how it goes. That’s as far as I know about it. They like him as a player. They think he’s an offer-level player.”

Johnson was Wharton’s leading receiver two years ago. They had a playoff game where there was a wideout giving them some trouble, he had two touchdowns and was aiming to score another. Williams stuck Johnson on him and his day was done for the second half. The rest is history. 

Johnson is a very talented player, but he’s also a hard worker. He’s the type of kid, who will show up 30 minutes early for workouts and be the last one to leave.

“He’s just a great kid,” Williams said. “He’s a manager at Popeyes. He works a bunch of hours during the week, outside of school and football. I just can’t say enough about him. I just think he’s a great kid. I think he’s a pro, honestly. I think he has the makeup to play on Sundays. Not just physically, but mentally and how he approaches the game.

“I just think [Dijon], he just represents what you want all these young dudes to represent, which is focus on being a good person, not being cocky and arrogant and not always trying to bring attention to yourself when you come in the room. He’s just a good kid and he’s got a real bright future ahead of him.”

There are not many kids that are cut from the same cloth as Johnson. How many high school football players with the offers that Johnson has are a manager at a local fast-food restaurant? It just speaks to his leadership abilities, on and off the field.

It also shows where his mind is at.

“Outside of sports, I just think he has the right makeup to grow up to be a good man,” Williams said, “and I think that takes kids a lot farther than their physical abilities.”

Johnson’s physical abilities at the cornerback position are a sight to behold, though. 

Williams is curious to see where Johson ends up, but in his personal opinion, he thinks he’ll finish his high school career as a cornerback. Then, when Johnson gets to the next level, he’ll eventually transition to an interchangeable defensive back and be an elite safety from day No. 1.

“I think he’s Derwin James,” Williams said. “That’s who I think he is. I just think he’s a guy that can impact any level of the defense, whether he’s on the outside, whether he’s a nickel guy or whether he’s a safety.

“I think [Dijon] is gonna be one of those guys that’s overly long, but he has legit cover skills. You can’t out physical him by putting the tight end there. I just think he’s gonna be a really good player and I think that’s why it’s important to make sure we get him around the right coaching staff, that really sees his potential goes further than just playing corner. Because I do think he can be an elite safety early on.”

Going back to Clemson’s interest in Johnson, it’s certainly mutual.

According to Williams, Johnson likes Clemson a lot. He went up to The Valley during the season and made a game-day visit. He’s planning on making a return trip to Clemson in the spring.

“He likes the school a lot, I will say that,” Williams said.

Since early December 2021, Johnson has picked up offers from USF, Oklahoma, Houston, Florida State, Miami, Penn State, Southern Cal, Michigan, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Utah, Pitt, Temple, Michigan State, Rutgers, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio State.

It’s only a matter of time before Clemson throws its hat in the ring.

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