By Brandon Speck
Jay Johnson is big. He can catch. He can run. He can single-handedly break open and win a football game for the Bruce Trojans.
But the Ole Miss wide receiver commit isn’t content enough to think he has it all figured out. The senior is still working on his craft.
“Footwork and some minor things,” Johnson said at last week’s 247Sports Southern Elite Combine at Lafayette.
Johnson, an ESPN 4-star recruit ranked eighth in Mississippi, emerged as a sophomore. His numbers weren’t huge, but explosive. In six games, Johnson caught eight passes, four of them for touchdowns. He averaged nearly 24 yards per catch.
Last season, he caught a team-high 23 passes for 381 yards and three touchdowns, all team-highs on a run-heavy team.
Many high school receivers go to the defensive backfield in college. That doesn’t look to be the case for Johnson, whose nearly 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame has Ole Miss coaches eying him in the slot.
“That’s what we’re going to do too,” Bruce coach James Ray said. “We’re also going to put him in backfield like we did last year.”
Bruce won’t throw it 50 times a game and that is another way to get the Trojans’ top playmaker involved.
Ray is open with Johnson about his areas of improvement, one where his natural abilities, like a lot of top prep prospects, may be a hindrance.
“He’s got to compete every down,” Ray said. “It’s so hard for a high school player to understand that. He can go through the motions and be better than half the kids, but if he truly wants to be elite, he’s got to learn to compete on every down and just take over a game.
“He ought to be able to do that in 2A. At any given moment, he can win a ballgame for us and he’s got to do that on a consistent basis.”
That’s where his work ethic will be helpful. Johnson has a job and lifts at 7 a.m.
“I’ve been training, every day working out. Now that I’ve got a job, It’s kind of hard for me to do both, but I still maintain it,” Johnson said. “Gotta stay busy. I’m taking whatever coaching I need, if it’s from my football coach or any other coach.”