One thing that’s become abundantly clear with Dino Babers and his staff is that the hashtag #OrangeIsTheNewFast doesn’t just refer to the uptempo offense they’re installing, but in the speed of the players they’re recruiting. Today, the Orange offered another player who exemplifies this need for speed: Nykeim Johnson.
Johnson is a slot receiver from Washington DC, who is listed by recruiting services as 5-foot-9 but may be closer to 5-foot-7, per a SB Nation article from the DC Regional for the Opening back in April. Right now, his height may be about the only thing keeping the big boys away, because the lightning fast Johnson checks off every other box you want from a slot receiver.
Johnson was clocked at 4.42 in the 40 at the DC Regional, and when you watch his highlights, that speed becomes evident immediately. But not only does he have a great top-end speed, he gets to it quickly. Johnson’s acceleration is elite, and enables him to get off the line quickly and burn defensive backs.
Now, I can’t speak to the level of competition he faces other than noting that the DC area has generally strong football, but it’s fairly amazing how often Johnson not only gets behind the secondary, but how far he gets behind it. On numerous plays in his brief highlight reel, he gets a good 10 yards of separation simply by being that much faster than everyone else on the field.
I mentioned Johnson’s performance at the Opening Regional, but didn’t even bring up the most impressive part yet: he was named the receivers MVP for the camp, with the aforementioned SB Nation article noting that he showed “good hands and fluid route-running ability.” Oh, and that 40 time? It was the best of anyone at the camp, which included several extremely high profile players.
Johnson currently holds a number of offers, including Virginia, Bowling Green, Army, Navy, and Hawaii, and is sure to add more throughout the coming months. He competed at Syracuse’s camp on Sunday and clearly made a big impression on the Syracuse coaches, receiving an offer less than 24 hours later.