Cass Tech burner Donovan Johnson talking to UM, MSU

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Donovan Johnson

Detroit – Detroit Cass Tech four-star cornerback Donovan Johnson has a dozen Division 1 offers as his junior year closes out, but Michigan and Michigan State have yet to climb on board in the recruiting process.

Johnson, ranked the No. 2 cornerback in the state for 2017 according to Scout.com, is preparing to compete in the 100 meters in Friday’s track regional at Grosse Pointe South. He was the national indoor champion in the 60 meters (6.84) this winter.

“I competed in the 200 meters at state last year, but didn’t make the top eight,” Johnson said. “I’m in the 100 this year and looking forward to a strong showing. We competed more in the indoor season than ever before and I feel sometimes when people get older, they get faster, and that’s what has happened to me.”

Johnson, 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds, has a verified 40 time of 4.41 seconds. He has multiple Power Five offers, including Tennessee, Wisconsin and Nebraska, but said his top three right now are Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Penn State.

“I have three schools that I’m liking a lot right now – Virginia Tech, Penn State and West Virginia,” noted Johnson. “I’ve been to West Virginia and Penn State, but haven’t been to Virginia Tech yet. I like that I fit in there and it’s a good atmosphere and I like the coaches.”

On Michigan and Michigan State, Johnson said: “I’m talking to Michigan and Michigan State, but they haven’t offered. I plan on going to the Sound Mind Sound Body camp, and probably camps at Michigan and Michigan State too.”

Johnson doubled last season as a running back after the departure of 2,000-yard Detroit News Dream Team player Mike Weber to Ohio State.

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“I liked it a lot,” Johnson said of playing running back. “My first position was running back in Little League so I kind of got back to it. I started during the middle of the year, had a couple of 100-yard games. I won’t necessarily be the main running back this year, but I’ll do it when they need me.

“I like playing both positions a lot. You get to score touchdowns as a running back and I had 12 or 13 last year. There’s a lot on you as a defensive back. You’re like the last line of defense and the whole team is counting on you, and I like that. I feel I’m a lockdown guy and my speed helps me out a lot.”

Johnson was also a talented special teams player, returning a kick 80 yards for a touchdown in the PSL final at Ford Field.

While Johnson has yet to receive an offer from the Wolverines and Spartans, Cass Tech two-way lineman Jordan Reid has, along with Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, Arizona State, West Virginia and others.

It’s impressive to see how much attention Reid has received, especially since he was without an offer a year ago at this time. Western Michigan came calling last June, followed by Florida in July after he attended a camp in Gainesville.

Reid, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound junior, transferred from Chippewa Valley after his freshman year. He was Cass Tech’s kicker as a sophomore before starting as an offensive lineman and defensive tackle his junior year when the Technicians advanced to the Division 1 state title game, losing to Romeo.

Reid was helping younger players in the weight room Monday, knowing its importance, since he could only bench press 130 pounds when he arrived at the school.

“My top five in no particular order are Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Tennessee and Pittsburgh,” Reid said. “The atmosphere is great and a lot of former Cass Tech players attend the University of Michigan. It’s a close school and I’ve been up there a lot throughout the season and the summer with the coaches and have a good feel for it.

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“Coach Harbaugh is a nice dude. I met him two months ago for the first time and watched a couple of open practices. I went up there two weeks ago with my uncle and father on an unofficial visit, sat down, talked, and they got to meet him. I wanted my uncle and father to know the type of atmosphere the University of Michigan provides.

“Michigan State has always been my school growing up, runs in the family, especially with the basketball program. Starting football my eighth grade year that was my favorite team. I’ve gone up there a lot, especially since a lot of Cass players go there, as well. I love Coach Dantonio, Coach Samuel, Coach Staten the offensive line coach. They run similar plays we run and as of right now if I was to go there, I’d have the opportunity to play offense or defense, which sparks my interest as well.”

Reid said he has gotten much stronger during his two years at Cass Tech. He now benches 300 pounds. He talked of his progression with the program.

“Being on the practice squad with the bigger guys there were days when I thought I’d want to give up, but in the back of my mind I knew that if I wanted to get where I am now I had to keep grinding,” recalled Reid of that sophomore year. “Now I can bench about 300 pounds – 225 eight times.”

Junior defensive end Zach Morton, who committed to Syracuse earlier this month, also raved about Cass Tech’s weight training program.

“When I came in as a skinny freshman I was 6-2 and 185 pounds,” Morton said. “I’m 6-4, 225 now. It’s all family where everybody helps each other out. It’s like a system and it works well.”