Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the recruit: Kelby Johnson

Apologies: I was going to have the first of many season previews up, but they require one missing ingredient that hasn't been released yet from the ACC media extravaganza. So enjoy the flip-flop: Boston College tomorrow, Kelby Johnson today.

Name: Kelby Johnson
Position: OT
Hometown: DC area, MD
School: DeMatha
Height: 6'8"
Weight: 285

ESPN: none
Rivals: 5.4, two stars, MD #19
Scout: three stars, #79 OT

Other offers: New Mexico

Mike London's got the touch: another April commitment landed within a couple weeks of making the offer, and again from program extraordinaire DeMatha, just a few days after extending the DeMatha streak to four years with Jordan Lomax.

Recruitniks have heard the names Arie and Cyrus Kouandjio, who attracted scholarship offers from every D-I school ever. Arie was a senior last year and signed with Alabama in 2010; Cyrus will be a senior this upcoming season. Both are all-world offensive tackle recruits from DeMatha, and important because that's why Kelby Johnson didn't have a starting job last year. With Arie gone, Johnson will step into place, more than likely on the right side.

Unsurprisingly for someone who spent his junior year as a backup, the word "raw" is used pretty frequently in scouting reports on Johnson, these coming from his limited playing time last fall and the showcases he's attended. Obviously, the lack of PT also explains his general lack of offers, though Rutgers at least was recruiting him pretty hard before his commitment to UVA. They never got around to pulling the offer trigger, but Johnson was at their spring game the very weekend before he committed to UVA.

Johnson is really, really tall for a lineman - for leverage reasons, they don't come much taller than he does at 6'8". It's that height that will ensure he stays at offensive tackle, as it makes it a little harder to get the explosive forward drive an interior lineman needs to be a run-blocker. (Austin Pasztor is listed as 6'7" but he's also soared past 300 pounds and was a 310-pound freshman.) Johnson isn't likely to be that big come next fall, but he has put on weight nicely - the Rivals articles from December call him 265-270 pounds, a solid 20 pounds lighter than they list him today.

The base assumption for Johnson's projection is the same as 98% of all other offensive linemen: redshirt a year, then work his way into the starting lineup. But Johnson does have two aces up his sleeve. The first is DeMatha, the praises of which I've sung before. The second is that while his ratings and offers and recruitment and such would be thoroughly unimpressive for your regular prospect, they're pretty decent for a guy who's got more camp time than field time. Johnson's size is prototypical and more than just about anyone on the commit list, he stands to benefit from his senior season. The O-line is young and Johnson's likely to need two full seasons at UVA before he even sniffs the field, thanks to the number of people in front of him. But of the three linemen already onboard (Johnson, Ross Burbank, and the lately-committed Tim Cwalina), as it stands today, July 2010, Johnson is the one with the most upside.

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