IU gets under-the-radar receiver in Josh Johnson #iufb

When Josh Johnson went through the recent summer camp circuit looking to land scholarship offers, his coach at Central Arkansas Christian was privy to the feedback.

Evaluators appreciated watching Johnson run his routes with precision and attention to detail, and noticed his ability to create separation on the fly.

“He’s definitely got that gift,” said Tommy Shoemaker, Johnson’s high school coach.

Now, Johnson is looking to take that gift to Indiana. The three-star prospect became the Hoosiers’ first commit in the 2017 class when he tweeted his verbal pledge to IU on Monday night. Indiana coach Kevin Wilson tweeted his customary “#Boom” on Tuesday morning, confirming Johnson’s addition.

According to the 247 Sports Composite, Johnson is the No. 4 ranked receiver in the state of Arkansas and one of the top 100 wideouts in his class.

Shoemaker says Johnson sees most of his action on the outside for his high school team, but probably projects as a slot receiver at the next level.

“He has an ability that you can’t really coach, as far as his ability to cut and stick his toe in the ground to break off a route. You can work on those things as a coach all you want, but sometimes either a kid can do them or he can’t. Josh is one of those kids that can do it. You can tell him, ‘Hey, this is what I want you to do,’ and he can go out and do it. He’s one of those kinds of guys.”

Besides Indiana, Johnson also has offers from Kansas, Louisiana Tech and Memphis, along with interest from Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Oklahoma State, Shoemaker said. Indiana offered the 5-foot-11, 170-pound prospect in early October.

“Kansas has been big and Arkansas has been seriously looking at him,” Shoemaker said. “They just haven’t been ready to pull the trigger yet. His dad went to Oklahoma State and so I thought he might wait and see if they’d offer, but he just might want to do something different. He’s had a lot of interest, and it seems to me that a lot of people are just finding about him. Now that he’s committed, I don’t know how much that will really matter.”

Johnson has caught 64 passes for 984 yards and six touchdowns this season, while averaging 15.4 yards per catch and 89.5 yards per game. He has a reported 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds.

Former Arkansas All-American receiver and return man Joe Adams helps as a receivers coach at Johnson’s high school and has been helping the IU commit work on some of the finer points of the position.

“Josh has a tremendous upside,” Shoemaker said. “I don’t think he’s close to being as good as he can be just because he’s a young junior and still hasn’t filled out completely. I think he’s going to get bigger and stronger and fill out to be able to grow. It’ll make him an even stronger player. He hasn’t even touched his potential yet, as far as I’m concerned.”


  1. Sounds like he is a good start on the 2017 class. There will be a lot of competition at receiver for IU and maybe it will get back to the level of the 2013 receivers.

    I am still jacked up about the game against UM I just wished IU could have pulled off the victory. Something many missed was how IU’s defense as low as it ranks did better stopping UM than the high ranked UM did stopping IU. The only area they did better was pass defense and scoring defense. IU had 7 scoring drives in regulation while UM had 5 scoring drives. The main problem was IU came up with FGs while UM came up with TDs.

  2. v13, I’m with you, still jacked up at the performance by both the O and D. Nearly turned that corner.

  3. HC, I would argue that, minus Wilson’s first season, we have been “nearly turning the corner” for the last 15-20 years. Every year at season’s end, we are filled with the coach speak along the lines of, “We were just a few plays from being 8-4”. Being “close” isn’t winning and shouldn’t be good enough any longer. At some point, one has to wonder after all these years, when these kids are going to start making those “few plays” and finally come away with the W’s.

  4. Austin as I’ve stated before it happens after we quit firing coaches and several years of improved recruiting. Which is what I’m seeing now.

  5. HC, I agree with you about how often we change coaches. At IU it takes time to change the mindset and develop a winning program. As Coach Wilson said this year the players are now buying into the program and if the younger ones are then the team will be improving each year. It would nice if this year they could get over the hump with two wins in the last two games but those games aren’t easy as PSU and Nebraska has shown. I think if the team goes into those games and play as hard as they did against UM then we will win the last two games and get into a bowl game. It sure would have been great to come away with a couple of upset wins but winning the last two wins will be good for the recruiting season.

  6. Welcome to IU, Josh! Looking forward to your play. And congrats to Coach Wilson and staff for recruiting an athlete with a “tremendous upside.”

  7. Welcome to IU, Josh and best of luck!

    This is an example of a recruiting mantra of taking 3 star athletes generally ignored by the upper level programs and developing them. We’ve seen this work in any number of instances and its a good sell because what we can offer is accelerated playing time and the realistic opportunity to play in the Horseshoe, Big House and the other B1G stadiums on national television. The other schools chasing these athletes can’t offer that. But, the flip side is that we have to provide much better coaching and conditioning that what would be required for a 4-5 star guy because our 3 star guy doesn’t start at that level. Unfortunately, we haven’t always provided that and this is one of the areas that need improvement for us to be consistently competitive. All that said, keep going for the under the radar athlete with potential!!!

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