T.J. Johnson, who signed with the Arizona Wildcats in February, never made it to campus because of academics.
He is hoping everything is in order to transfer in January.
Johnson, who would instantly become one of the fastest weapons for coach Rich Rodriguez, is at Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., where he has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, including one against the Army prep team last week, according to coach Bill Chaplick.
Chaplick said the Arizona coaches have been in frequent contact and that “we have a plan in place” for Johnson to enroll at UA for the spring semester.
“He’s been a great player for us as a running back and a slot,” Chaplick said. “He’s gone to all his classes, all his practices, and he’s been a model citizen. He’s committed to Arizona.”
Johnson, from Island Coast High School in Cape Coral, Fla., finished third this May in the state’s 100-meter final, recording a personal-best time of 10.4 seconds. That broke the Lee County record of 10.45 seconds, which was held by Clemson star receiver Sammy Watkins.
As of late May, Johnson’s time in the 100 was the 19th-best mark in the nation among high school sprinters, according to USA Today.
Johnson missed some time at the beginning of the football season because of injury, but “he’s playing really well now,” Chaplick said. “He’s got great football speed.”
Johnson — sometimes referred to as Tyrell Johnson in news stories — rushed for 545 yards and five touchdowns (10.28 yards per carry) as a senior at Island Coast, also catching 38 passes for 588 yards and six touchdowns, according to maxpreps.com. He had kick returns of 96 and 100 yards. Those stats don’t include a postseason game.
As a junior, he rushed 47 times for 681 yards and 10 touchdowns and made eight receptions for 257 yards and four scores.
The former three-star recruit held scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Tennessee, Miami, West Virginia, Ole Miss and several others last fall.
If Johnson does indeed enroll in January, he will join arguably the finest collection of pass-catching recruits ever assembled at Arizona.
The group includes Notre Dame transfer receiver Davonte’ Neal and Texas transfer receiver Cayleb Jones (both of whom become eligible next season), Salpointe Catholic receivers Cameron Denson and Kaelin Deboskie, and Scottsdale Chaparral High tight end Trevor Wood.
Jordan Morgan, a 6-2 wideout from Beaverton, Ore., is averaging 19.3 yards on his 25 catches, with eight touchdown receptions in nine games. Tony Ellison, a multi-purpose threat, was averaging 18.3 yards on nine catches and had nine rushing touchdowns in four games at Granite Bay (Calif.) High before suffering a season-ending knee injury.