Big Pressure, Big Footsteps to Follow: 2017 WR Keyshawn Johnson, Jr. is One to Watch

By Jeremy Birmingham on April 22, 2014 at 3:00p

It's hard being a teenager these days. It's harder being a teenage athlete. It's hardest being a teenage athlete trying to follow in the prodigious footsteps of a potential Hall of Fame father. Welcome the world of Keyshawn Johnson, Jr. A regular kid who loves video games (NCAA series and Madden, especially) and wants to study how to program them in college, Keyshawn realizes there's some parts of his life that will never be regular.

"I've felt (pressure to live up his dad's name) since I could walk," Keyshawn the second told Eleven Warriors. "It's nothing new to me anymore. It has its pros and cons."

What is new to Johnson is an extensive college visit schedule. He has spent much of the last month in the beginning stages of his recruitment, traveling the country and collecting offers along the way. Ohio State, Florida State, Clemson, California, Arizona State, Louisville, Miami, UCLA, and West Virginia are among the big-time programs that have recently come calling. He's learning quickly how to separate what he wants to hear from the truth. Recruiting, after all, is essentially a sales pitch. Despite that knowledge, he's confident that what's he heard so far is a positive sign for what's to come.

"I feel like all these schools are being pretty real with me, I think if they didn't like what I could bring to the table they wouldn't have offered me," he said, talking about how he's learning the "business" of recruiting. "Some schools you can tell there's a little (salesmanship.)"

Johnson is not naive about his game, and the coaches who have offered him have been to the point. He's got a growing game — and a growing frame — and three years left in high school to refine the product.

"I don't drop the ball. I have suction cups for hands, and I am pretty smooth route runner," Johnson said, displaying a touch of his father's uber-confidence. "Right now I am really working on my speed. I want to get to a 4.6 (in the 40-yard-dash) by the start of next year."

He knows what coaches like about him, but what is Johnson, who hopes to make a college decision in his junior season, looking for as he searches for a college?

"I'm looking for a coach that can help get me to the NFL, to make me NFL ready," Johnson, who's father was the first pick in the 1996 NFL Draft said. "A school will standout to me just by believing in me and making sure to develop a relationship with me (as a person.) A pro-style offense wouldn't hurt, either." 

Keyshawn Johnson, Jr.
Keyshawn Johnson, Jr. will be back at Ohio State soon.

One school he visited last month, Ohio State, has a small advantage in the "personal touch" department, because his cousin, wide receiver Michael Thomas, is suited up in Columbus.

"I'm really proud of him," he said of his older cousin. "(Mike) says he loves it there and it's his time there now. My visit to Ohio State was great. I had a great tour of the campus, the facilities and I watched practice. It was very intense, and I love the way (Urban) Meyer is coaching that team."

Another possible advantage for the Buckeyes? Not many other schools have a quarterback already committed for 2017. Ohio State commitment Danny Clark has been hard at work on Johnson, who stands 6-foot-1 now, but should end up 6-foot-4 like his father.

"(Danny and I) have texted, but we've not yet met in person," Johnson said. "He tells me about his high school, and I was actually watching a movie about it on Netflix (Go Tigers!) I saw his highlight tape, that kid can really throw the ball. He keeps telling me I should go to Ohio State."

Johnson is going to Ohio State, in June, when he will camp with the Buckeyes. After that, things will start to shape up a bit more.

"I'll be going back to Ohio State this summer," Johnson said when asked if he plans on returning to see the Buckeyes again. "I'm going to the camp there."

A 3.0 student, Johnson isn't resting on his laurels after a successful freshman year. There's more to being a college student-athlete than student than football.

"I'm trying to get to a 3.7 GPA or higher," he said of his academic goals. "I'm interested in computer design. I've always been interested in making video games or programming."

As the son of a USC legend, he admits there's some affection for the Trojans but he doesn't think that will affect his decision.

"(My dad) is my role-model. I appreciate all he's done for me," Keyshawn added. "He tells me to strive to be the best every day, to get better every day. USC is a school I like, and I won't lie; they are my 'go to' team on NCAA because Marqie Lee is nice, but my dad's history won't affect my decision."



Killer nuts's picture

It's nice to hear we already have a leader for our 2017 class, go get em Danny Clark 

+17 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Indeed nice to have that early, we need a leader for this class ASAP!

-1 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

Former Hall of Fame WR who's son likes football video games? Deja vu?

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

+3 HS
buckeyeguy0615's picture

Irrelevant, but wasn't his dad just arrested yesterday?

+3 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

He made bail...

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

+1 HS
sharks's picture

For domestic violence.  Teachable moment, Keyshawn jr: being able to catch a football doesnt give one free reign to be an asshole.  Allegedly, at this point.

A man got to have a code...

+1 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

If he wants to study game programming, I hope he doesn't drive down Sinclair rd and see the 'Shawnee St. ranked #7 in game design' billboard and forget/ change his mind about what he's doing in Columbus.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

+1 HS
Bobcat04's picture

I'm from around the Portsmouth area, and I'm happy that Shawnee has something like that to hang their hat on.  It's good that a smaller school in a small town has something to attract students interested in that field.  Lord knows we could use more creative types here on the river.  That said, SSU has no football team, and has never put anyone in the NFL.  :-)

+1 HS
TeddyHeisman's picture

These comments make Ohio State fans look like a bunch of whiny assholes. 

+8 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Thank you. Apparently we have a number of folks who don't give a crap that these kids and their parents and families read the stories we write on them. A little bit of tact would be appreciated.

FitzBuck's picture

Give Ramzy a bottle of bourbon and have him get belligerent on the posters lacking tact....entertaining and instructional. 

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+1 HS
FloridaBuck's picture

I must be more drunk than I thought I was... What "comments" are you referring to?  Legit question, not being an asshole.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

A story about a prospect, that his family will read and disseminate doesn't need off-topic questions about people in said family, name-calling about his family, etc. How about we talk about the player or the story instead of always chiming in with irreverent retorts?

I know that 11W is a free-thinking, non-censoring sort of site, but there's a time and a place for that sort of stuff, agree? These kids and their families give us access to their lives, and the worst thing we can do is spit in their face with stuff like that. It's a good way to make sure we lose the access that we've worked hard to gain over the last few years.


D-Day0043's picture

Good point. It is good to hear things from a different perspective. I never really thought about it that way. You all as writers have to cultivate trust with the people you are writing about and they are not going to give access to a site if they are going to be publicly slandered. I will try to do a better job from now on when commenting not to say something blindly emotional. I think sometimes it's easy to detach from athletes and public figures as real people and say things about them we wouldn't say to their face when reading about them or watching them on television. 

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

Seattle Linga's picture

Well Said Birms - I am happy to see that Jr. will be back at OSU soon.

+2 HS
FloridaBuck's picture

Yeah I hear what youre saying.  My original question was to what you and Teddy were referring to.  Im assuming it was the couple of comments about his father or his possible field of study?

Xenia_Buckeye's picture

Hey staffers how about you quit worrying about stupid blog posts and get back to writing articles? EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE EVER psoted on here has always had at least one idiot post. So why should this one be any different? It is after all a blog where anyone can post anything (almost anything anyway). If you don't want people posting stupid things then quit putting up articles about recruits and letting people post on them. The last time I checked this is still America and people are allowed to have their own views!

-3 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Just because every article has one or more stupid posts replying to it doesn't mean they have to. We're (mostly) adults here, there's no reason people can't make adult decisions when it comes to different types of responses to different types of stories. 

The recruiting updates are a part of the site, and require a certain amount of self-control when posting on them, that's all I am suggesting. The families and the prospects we are writing about deserve that in my opinion.

NuttyBuckeye's picture

Well stated, Birm!!  Please give yourself 100 helmet stickers - 50 for each response, above.  I truly appreciate all the articles I read.  I am a new "subscriber" to 11 Warriors, and I truly enjoy the information and writing presented.  Keep up the great work, ALL AUTHORS.

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

+2 HS
Xenia_Buckeye's picture

So what you want are nothing but lapdogs who dicuss nothing but the recruits good qualities and the wonderful family that they come from regardless of the allegations to the contrary?

I'm not real sure what my point is only that it rankles me a bit when people tell me what I should or shouldn't post in what is basically a Forum for the exchange of information and ideas. I am sorry if some of the information or ideas  are negatvie, but it is not always sunshine and unicorns in my world.

-2 HS
d5k's picture

Xenia_Buckeye, you may have missed the point and proved it at the same time, well done.  And the forums are in another part of the site.  This is an interview article.

+3 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

What I am saying is: feel free to say whatever you feel like saying, it's just disappointing that people feel the need to constantly be "that guy" in comments on stories about 16-year-old kids. The forums are a much more appropriate place for that sort of discussion.

You're not the person who has to deal with the parents and kids who feel slighted or stabbed in the back after those sort of comments make there way into what should have been a introduction story on a key recruit the Buckeyes are pursuing. You can be full of piss and vinegar all you want, I just think adults should know better. 

d5k's picture

Thanks for ensuring this article had 2 more "idiot posts".

sharks's picture

Off the high horse for a moment.  Dad is a public figure, and if the spousal battery allegations are true, also an asshole.

If a kid doesn't want to see mean comments about his celebrity father on the internet, he should advise dad not to hit women.


A man got to have a code...

-2 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

The kid is a 16-year-old high school recruit who is reading a story about his recruitment. There are better places to be a cynic.

WhySoSerious's picture

Tell em...


Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

+1 HS
PoKeY21's picture

"A pro-style offense wouldn't hurt, either." I know this is important to a lot of recruits, but I think the days of the aforementioned "pro-style offense" are numbered. There was a time when the college game took its cues from the pros like when a tall, strong armed QB or 1 big bruising Running Back were must haves. I think those days are over though. The innovative offenses in the college ranks are now dictating what the NFL teams do. Fast no huddle offenses and formations like the wildcat have all come from the college ranks. Meyers probably already preaching it, but if he's not I would try to kill the whole perception of what a recruit thinks a"pro-style offense" really is.

"It was a woman who drove me to drink, come to think of it I never did hang around to thank her for that"

Go1Bucks's picture

Pro style days are numbered?  Too funny. 

Go Bucks!

Ball-Z-Buck's picture

When is it ok to start panicking over the lack of recruits? In fact the number is decreasing not increasing.

D-Day0043's picture

When Meyer starts bringing in classes ranked 30 or lower, instead of bringing in top 5 classes every year like has been doing.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

otrain2416's picture

Its gonna be hard to pull him from Cali, but its awesome we got a visit early. Best of luck to him in school and football the next few years.

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

osubigcunn's picture

It's great to see that Danny is already on the recruiting pitch. Hopefully, Urban keeps eyes in Massillon as Danny's little brother is a STUD too. It's also nice to hear that future recruits (hopefully) see the importance of football (high school especially) in this great state through films such as Go Tigers! Although that film does not paint Massillon in the best light it is a pretty accurate reflection of Massillon (I should know as the filming was completed during my Senior year and I am in the film throughout and in the deleted scenes). Go Tigers and most importantly Go Bucks! Is it too early to suggest that Danny will be throwing TD's to Key Jr when we visit Chapel Hill in 2017?

BUCKfutter's picture

keyshawn johnson has a son that's almost college age.  i am getting old

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

+1 HS
osubuckeye4life's picture

I would to hear 'touchdown Ohio State, Clark to Johnson Jr. for the second time in the afternoon and it is still the first quarter!' on Saturdays in a few years!

Aim for the sky Keyshawn Jr!