One of the primary receivers for Newman star QB Arch Manning, the fifth-best player nationally in the 2023 recruiting class according to 247Sports, became an LSU Class of 2022 commitment Friday afternoon.
Four-star wide receiver AJ Johnson of Newman committed to the Tigers via his Twitter page, thanks to the recruiting efforts of LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and Tigers’ receivers coach Mickey Joseph.
The 6-3 1/2, 200-pound Johnson, the nation’s 33rd ranked wide receiver according to 247Sports and No. 237 overall prospect and No. 12 in Louisiana, caught 40 passes for 558 yards and 6 TDs last season as a junior. He helped Newman to a 10-1 record in 2020 that included a loss in the state semifinals to eventual state champion Lafayette Christian Academy.
“I give a lot of credit to Coach O and Mickey Joseph,” Newman football coach Nelson Stewart said. “They’ve just been phenomenal recruiting our school through the pandemic. They’ve stayed on our kids.”
Johnson is the second member of Newman’s Division III state semifinalist team to commit to LSU, joining offensive lineman Bo Bordelon.
LSU reached its 10th commitment in its current recruiting class that’s ranked third nationally by 247Sports.
Johnson also considered scholarship offers from Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, Miami, Tennessee and Virginia. He represents LSU eighth Class of 2022 commitment that decided to remain within his state’s borders and play college football.
Also, Johnson joins an LSU recruiting class with previous commitments from national top 55 wide receivers Aaron Anderson of Karr (No. 53) and DeColdest Crawford of Green Oaks (No. 55) and from quarterback Walker Howard of St. Thomas More who’s rated Louisiana’s No. 1 2022 prospect.
“It says a lot about the state of football in Louisiana that these kids are staying home and going to play for Coach O,” Stewart said. “Mickey formed a great relationship with AJ. It was all about authenticity with Coach O that’s really resonated with me. He FaceTimes me every week, he’s always staying in touch and that’s real important. It’s a huge day for our program.”
Stewart said that Johnson, who transferred to Newman after his freshman year at McMain, also took into account playing close to home, playing in the SEC and maintaining a relationship with Bordelon, his best friend on Newman’s team.
“He knew it was the fit, he wanted to get it done,” Stewart said. “I tell them it’s an engagement and he told me he found the perfect fit. He told me about his conversations with Coach O and Coach Mickey.
“Their new offensive staff has made a big impression with the pro-style offense they’re bringing and all the things they’re doing. It hit every mark for him. Add in Bo, it was the right call for him and it’s hard to argue with that.”
Stewart credited Johnson for his downfield blocking ability and said he was recently timed at 4.54 in the 40-yard dash. He has a 42-inch vertical jump which made him quite a red-zone target for Manning, who has thrown for 4,397 yards and 65 TDs in 18 games in his first two Newman seasons.
“This was his decision,” Stewart said of Johnson. “We sat down a few weeks ago and talked about it. He kind of wanted to get it done and this checked every for him. I’m so excited for both of our kids. Baton Rouge is getting two great football players and they play it the right way.”