The Baylor Bears have seen a recruiting bump from the on-field success last season, culminating on Sunday with the monumental pledge of Fort Worth Southwest wide receiver Robbie Rhodes. Back in late January, that success helped reel in Bryan quarterback Chris Johnson, a dual threat athlete with an impressive frame and physical attributes who made some big-time throws on Saturday in College Station at the A&M Consolidated 7on7 SQT.
More than just the success last season, Johnson was impressed with the development of Robert Griffin III over the years. Clear evidence, in the opinion of Johnson, that Briles is an outstanding quarterbacks coach. An opinion, incidentally, shared by virtually every tapped-in observer of college football with some ability to evaluate the game. Briles gave Griffin the ability to thrive in Waco and Johnson believes that Briles will afford him the same opportunity for success.
Johnson said that his arm strength attracted the attention of the Baylor head coach, as well as his accuracy and consistency. The arm strength is ever apparent for the Bryan quarterback, but the latter two elements are sometimes missing. At his best, however, Johnson did show on Saturday the tantalizing upside that resulted in Briles taking something of a calculated risk on a prospect whose buzzword is developmental.
The relationship between the two was characterized as comfortable by Johnson for both the player and the coach during a recent summer camp, with Johnson calling Briles "excited" to have him there and get the chance to work with him a solid year before the big quarterback makes it to campus for good.
Johnson wasn't aware of any other quarterbacks being recruited in the class and said that he believes he's the guy for Baylor at the position in the recruiting cycle, which he is embracing as a leader, though he hasn't spent much time actively recruiting other prospects.
On the field, at least, Johnson had a chance to start establishing rapport with the newest Bear, Robbie Rhodes, just days before the wide receiver's commitment. As have recruiting analysts recently, Johnson had nothing but praise to lavish on Rhodes and his ability, calling him "very fast" and a "natural born-athlete" who can "get off the line quickly and get open at any time, anywhere on the field."
Receivers like that make things easy for the quarterback, according to Johnson.
"It doesn't matter who's on him," he opined of Rhodes. "He can get open and I just have to put it out there and let him go get it."
Sounds like a quarterback's dream.
Johnson ended his thoughts on Rhodes by saying that he would be a great addition.
"Hopefully he decides to come and join us," said the 6-5, 200-pounder.
Hope no more, big man -- you've found your future number one target.
The Baylor commit has a reputation for having issues with his accuracy, and that was the case early in the day, when it seemed as if he didn't know where the ball was going at times. He didn't have many issues in the short passing game, but had difficulty throwing over the middle and his touch was inconsistent on deep throws, often missing the mark by five yards or more.
Without the benefit of more in-depth film review, it's difficult to say if there's a mechanical issue causing the problems for Johnson, though his mechanics looked relatively clean to the naked eye. On the intermediate throws, the most likely issue is proper weight transfer, as locking the front leg and failing to get out over it can cause the rest of the body to drag through the release, which causes throws to go high of the intended target.
Still, there's no question that the tools are there -- Johnson probably has the best frame of any quarterback in a deep in-state class and looked every bit of 6-5 and well over his listed 195 pounds. Throw in long arms and Johnson is a guy who could project favorably at the wide receiver position, among others, depending on how much weight he could gain. In terms of tools, his arm strength is among the best in the class and something that can't be taught.
Two throws in the final game of pool play illustrated his upside and why he will likely stay at quarterback in college for Art Briles. Two long passes showed that he does have moments of good touch, as he threw touchdown passes in a short period of time, one of which traveled roughly 50 yards and hit his receiver deep in stride. It was truly a thing of beauty.
The Bears may have their quarterback of the future in the Johnson, but it will take him some time in college to get there, even working with a renowned quarterback coach like Briles.