The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will, once again, take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2021 season.
#15 Jordan Johnson, WR
Ranked 37th overall in his class, Jordan Johnson was the highest-ranked wide receiver recruit to enroll at Notre Dame in over a decade when he signed as part of the 2020 class. The St. Louis native chose Notre Dame over offers from the Alabama Crimson Tide, Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State Buckeyes, USC Trojans and many others.
Fans immediately had high expectations of Johnson, who along with Chris Tyree and Michael Mayer formed a three-headed offensive monster at the top of Notre Dame’s 2020 class. But while he was featured heavily in hype videos coming out of camp, Johnson did not emerge like his counterparts at running back and tight end, seeing action in only a couple games and generating no offensive statistics of note. This prompted some classic unfair-but-to-be-expected speculation about how Johnson was a bust/had character problems/was being held down by a coach who doesn’t play freshmen except for all the times he totally does.
Coach Kelly offered a few reasons why Johnson wasn’t seeing the field, including a need for further physical conditioning to get reps at the “W” receiver spot - his natural role given his tall and long frame - as well as adjusting to the academic challenges that come with playing Notre Dame football. In making these remarks Kelly consistently emphasized that Johnson was continuing to make progress in these areas, and it is hardly unusual for even a highly talented freshman to sit for these reasons. Fans still have a lot to be excited about and have every reason to expect a breakout in 2021 given Johnson’s outstanding ball skills and nuanced positional traits, with a year of college-level conditioning and coaching under his belt.
The Restaurant that Fits
Residents of and/or visitors to Austin, Texas know of Franklin’s as the most famous, delicious BBQ joint in town, but very few ever actually go there because the line to get in is reliably multiple hours long.
Everyone knows it’s great, but almost no one has seen it: it’s the Jordan Johnson of restaurants.
With Javon McKinley and Ben Skowronek both having departed, both outside receiver positions are open going into 2021. Upperclassmen like Joe Wilkins, Kevin Austin and Braden Lenzy likely have inside tracks on the starting roles, but with the former never having shown star power and the latter recovering from repeat injuries, the competition is far from over. Johnson’s natural ability and year of conditioning progress and maturation make him a prime candidate to seize a starting role, and fans should expect to see him get significant action in 2021 even if he is second-string.