For those who don't know, I was a UCF football beat writer this past year and got a chance to watch every one of UCF's games, as well as talk to players and coaches about football related things.
Some view Storm Johnson as a sleeper pick, while others have him ranked very low. I'm here to tell you that he very well could be one of the most talented backs in this draft.
However, my big issue with him, which isn't widely reported, is his off-field issues that forced him to transfer from UM to UCF. I'm not buddy-buddy with Johnson, and I've really only talked to him a handful of times. But what I do know is that Johnson's family wanted him to transfer to UCF because they felt he would stay out of trouble with a coach like George O'Leary looking after him and setting up rules and guidelines for the team.
As we all know, the NFL is not college football, and in many cases, players do whatever they want, sometimes leading to poor situations like arrests or being out of shape. I am not saying Storm Johnson is going to be a criminal. I'll repeat that again so it's clear. I am NOT saying he is going to get into trouble or anything like that. Johnson, when interviewed, was very select in what he would say, and it was very generic. In a lot of cases, it would be very difficult to get him to open up at all. He presented himself very low key, trying not to put himself in the spotlight and giving his teammates the credit.
The South Florida connection is there. I think he's an incredibly talented running back who has elusiveness that is second to none. But I have concerns about Johnson being mature enough to thrive in an NFL setting, due to the circumstances that led him from UM to UCF.
For all I know, he could be a completely different person than he was two years ago. I just wanted to put some information out there for those who have any interest in him as a prospect.
As a player, he is incredibly fun to watch and he has some of the best elusiveness that I've seen in a running back.
He's not overly powerful, but he's big enough to take hits. He's not the fastest guy, but he's fast enough to get around the edge. If you've seen him play, you know how good he is at not only avoiding contact, but getting through it. He was in a pro-style offense at UCF, with a coaching staff that has NFL experience. He was with coaches that were hell-bent on its players being all-around guys.
Storm does not get a lot of publicity on his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, but there were quite a few times when he turned a short little dump off pass into an incredible play. Like mentioned before, UCF coaches would not put players in the game who couldn't block - that including running backs and receivers.
Storm also performed very well against UCF's toughest opponents.
At Penn State: 17 rushes, 117 yards. 6.9 ypc. Long of 58. One rushing TD and one receiving TD
South Carolina: 16 rushes, 64 yards. 4.0 ypc. 4 receptions, 41 yards. One rushing TD
At Louisville: 18 carries, 109 yards. 6.1 ypc. 4 receptions, 79 yards. One rushing TD, one receiving TD
Houston: 28 carries, 127 yards. 4.5 ypc.
Fiesta Bowl against Baylor: 20 carries, 124 yards. 6.2 YPC. Three rushing TD's.
He's a guy that's going to consistently get the chunk yardage plays and when needed, he'll bail you out with some YAC or by making a gazillion people miss.
His vision is spectacular. He had a tendency early on to want to break off a big run every time, and wouldn't follow blockers or run through his holes. He's been coached up on taking what the defense gives instead of trying to bust a home run every time. Every now and then he'll get happy feet trying to find the home run, but for the most part, he's been great at following blockers. He'll make some cuts across the field in lanes you didn't even know existed. It's almost scary sometimes how he finds the lanes he does.
He also has a knack for finding the endzone. He knows where the goal line is and when he's near it, he finds a way to get into the endzone.
The only negative thing about Johnson's game is his fumbling habit. There were several times this year when he was put on the bench for recklessly handling the ball in traffic. It's something he was constantly coached on, and something he'll still need some work on going into the future.
I'm still not sure if I'd want him on Miami, due to my concerns about his maturity and him making dumb decisions off the field when nobody's there to hold him back.
Otherwise, he is one of the most talented backs in this draft without a doubt in my mind.
Here's Johnson vs. Penn State: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbdkDtq854s
Here's his highlight from the first four games of the season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsZjjZCUy4M
Here's the YAC I was talking about: http://youtu.be/0SvEwbja8jU?t=50s