Photo via Dijon Johnson (twitter)
As fall turned to summer, Florida’s heat on the recruiting trail began to cool off a bit. The Gators, after all, had amassed a 20-member recruiting class. The available spaces were filling up.
Today, though, the Gators began their final push to fill out their class with one last wave of blue-chips. A few hours after safety Bryce Thornton announced his commitment, consensus four-star defensive back Dijon Johnson, out of Tampa’s Wharton High School, pulled the trigger. The move completes a delayed flip from Ohio State, and serves as a direct head-to-head win for Billy Napier over Miami and Mario Cristobal.
In other words, Billy Napier just stuffed Mario Cristobal into a locker.
Johnson first committed to Ohio State back in April following an unofficial visit to Columbus, and seemed solid to the Buckeyes throughout the spring and early summer. In late July, though, smoke began formulating about hm possibly being interested in Florida. He then visited Gainesville for the Gators’ Friday Night Lights event, and after an evening of talking with recruits and coaches alike, he appeared sold on the Gators.
But the Miami Hurricanes never gave up their pursuit, and thus began a battle. For months, Johnson kept a low profile, save for one visit to Gainesville for the Kentucky game. Most thought he was still favoring the Gators, but his hesitance to make a commitment threw a shadow of doubt into his fate.
Then, today, Dijon Johnson removed that shadow of doubt, and pulled the trigger. Thus, Johnson became Florida’s second commitment since a mid-August wave that included Jaden Robinson, Kelby Collins, Will Norman, and Kamran James.
Johnson also had offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan, Georgia, Mississippi, Penn State, Miami, FSU, Auburn, USC, Michigan State, and more. You can watch his high school highlights here.
Johnson looks to be the complete package as a DB, and he appears versatile and athletic enough to make an impact at either cornerback or safety in due time. The straight line speed (4.5 seconds in the 40 yard dash) combined with agile feet and quick hip-flipping ability give him a tremendous ceiling as a college corner. He’ll need to grow into his frame a little bit more (as most rising high school seniors do) but assuming he does- watch out.
His quick feet make him adept in the art of backpedaling, and his ability to stop on a dime and change direction is very impressive. And his nose for the football is just tremendous. On top of having an already-solid catch radius, he just has elite instincts and play recognition abilities, which resulted in four pick-sixes and two additional interceptions for him last season alone at Wharton High School.
Scouts for both 247 and On3 do warn that he gets beat every so often, although his blazing speed is usually enough for him to make up that deficit and recover. He’s also not afraid to get dirty and jam receivers at the line and is a solid tackler to boot, but those same scouts also make a point to say that he has to keep working on his press technique. But technique is coachable, and with Corey Raymond at the controls of Florida’s cornerback room, Gator fans should feel comfortable with the likelihood that Johnson develops those traits.
At worst, Dijon Johnson feels like a two-year starter at nickel. His ceiling, on the other hand, is not something I feel confident defining. The potential is enormous with this kid, and if he develops some improved techniques, he could be patrolling Florida’s secondary throughout the mid-2020s.
247Sports credits Corey Raymond and Patrick Toney with landing him.
With Dijon Johnson onboard, Florida now has 22 commitments in its 2023 class. 17 of those commitments are of consensus four-star quality, thus pushing Florida back into the top ten of the 247Sports Composite rankings.
More specifically, Florida’s DB class now consists of some legitimate depth. On top of Johnson and Thornton, Florida also has commitments from safety Jordan Castell and cornerbacks Ja’Keem Jackson and Sharif Denson, with designated ATH Aaron Gates also more than capable of contributing in the secondary.
Here’s hoping they can stay there.