Hot Reads: Johnson Jr. Takes a Leave from Huskers Football
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: Johnson Jr. Takes a Leave from Huskers Football

June 21, 2017

Remember back on signing day when Nebraska ended up a wide receiver or two short of the number it wanted to hit? The Huskers signed Keyshawn Johnson Jr., Tyjon Lindsey and Jaevon McQuitty, but Mike Riley indicated there was room for more in the class.

“Maybe we would like to have one or two more guys, but when you get a lot of guys in one class and you start trying to fit them into play, it becomes a little tougher,” he said. “We are going to say this is the perfect number and go forward and we love these guys so it worked out real well.”

Turns out Nebraska is now another receiver short in 2017 class as freshman Johnson is taking a leave from the Huskers. Keyshawn Johnson Sr. told Sam McKewon of the Omaha World Herald that it was joint decision between himself, Mike Riley and the athletic department to have Johnson Jr. return home with hopes of returning to the team in January.

“One thing you will not do as my son is you will not embarrass Nebraska, you will not embarrass Mike Riley and you will not embarrass this family,” the elder Johnson said. “If you mature and you’re ready to resume your football career and academic goals, then Nebraska will be ready to embrace you.”

Johnson Jr. started having complications with appendicitis near the end of his senior year at Calabasas High School. His recovery limited him throughout the spring. On June 10, Johnson Jr. was cited by campus police for marijuana possession.

We’re still pretty early in the lifespan of this change of direction, but both Johnson Sr. and Johnson Jr. seem committed to the plan to get back to Nebraska.

That said, these sort of detours can always end up at a different destination, but I’m confident that if Johnson Jr. wants to be back in Lincoln six months from now he’ll have the opportunity.

As for Nebraska’s immediate depth at wide receiver, it probably doesn’t change much. Given his limited spring, it seemed like Johnson Jr. was headed for a redshirt year. So behind a top four or five (based on the depth chart) of Stanley Morgan Jr., De’Mornay Pierson-El, Keyan Williams and JD Spielman, Nebraska will need some contributions certainly from Bryan Reimers and Gabe Rahn, a pair of promising upperclassmen who will have expanded roles. The other two true freshmen wide receivers in the class, McQuitty and Lindsey, seem like unlikely redshirt candidates. They’ll play.

Nebraska’s wide receiver recruiting, however, does get a little more murky. If the Huskers wanted at least one more in the 2017 class, then they were trying to make that up in the 2018 cycle. Now you have a scholarship that may need to be earmarked for Johnson Jr.’s return or may not be. It will be interesting to see how Nebraska navigates that.

The Grab Bag

  • ICYMI: Nebraska also made a staff change on Tuesday. Bob Elliott is moving into an analyst role and former Notre Dame assistant Scott Booker, who was already on the Huskers’ staff, will take over as safeties coach.
  • Lincoln Riley will make $3.1 million in his first year as Oklahoma’s new head coach.
  • Interesting read from Jon Wilner of The Mercury News who looks at the Pac-12 Network’s struggle to produce as much revenue as other conference networks.
  • Missouri defensive end Marcell Frazier, a senior, is taking a stand against local media, saying he won’t be doing any interviews. Frazier appears to reached this conclusion after watching the coverage of a recent underage drinking citation of a Missouri basketball player.

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