Trieu: MSU has connection with four-star TE Tyler Johnson

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Tyler Johnson

Recruiting was vastly different in 1988 than it is now in 2016, but had the internet been around, Michigan State fans very likely would have been buzzing about the signing of defensive lineman Bill Johnson.

Johnson was an athletic 6-foot-4 prospect out of Chicago Simeon, a school that was producing professional athletes in several sports at that time.

Johnson went on to be a two-time All-Big Ten selection at Michigan State. He was projected as a first-round draft pick by some before an injury slid him down to the third round, where he was chosen by the Cleveland Browns and played eight seasons in the NFL.

If the Spartans sign his son Tyler Johnson, who takes his official visit to East Lansing this weekend, in this class, there undoubtedly will be much excitement over the addition. Unlike his father, who made life for offensive linemen miserable, the younger Johnson is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end who prefers to do his damage on linebackers and safeties.

He is rated as a four-star prospect on Scout.

“He is very versatile,” Scout analyst Brandon Huffman says. “He is a big wide receiver right now and he has great body control for a big man and creates matchup problems with his size.”

Johnson is athletic enough to serve as a return man for his Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland team at his size.

Initially, his official visit was scheduled for Oct. 29, but he rescheduled for this weekend. His plan has always been to not rush anything in his recruitment and that remains the plan.

“He said he may not decide until after Signing Day,” Huffman said. “He may not take more visits for a while.”

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Huffman added that Florida State just offered and the Seminoles will have an opportunity to sway Johnson. In-state Arizona State has been a top contender throughout, and USC and UCLA continue to recruit him hard.

There is obviously a familiarity with Michigan State. But for all the pushing around of offensive linemen he did as a Spartan, Bill Johnson is more hands-off when it comes to where his son will go to school.

"Conversations with (my father) are mostly about right now and my high school season, so he's not pushing me anywhere," Johnson said.

Additional visitors for the weekend

Johnson is the only official visitor for the weekend, but there will be many unofficials in town. They include Chicago Solorio junior quarterback Quincy Patterson, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound prospect who already has offers from Iowa, Vanderbilt, Indiana, Penn State, Mississippi State, Northwestern and more.

Indianapolis Warren Central defensive back Julius Brents will also be in East Lansing. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior holds offers from Iowa and Indiana, among others.

El-Julian Jordan, a strong-armed junior quarterback from Detroit Central, and Dalton Tomlison, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive lineman from Beaver (Ohio) Eastern, are also expected to be in town.

More information

Tyler Johnson profile

Julius Brents profile

Quincy Patterson profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at