5 Reasons 4-Star Jaquan Johnson Will Sign with Miami
Safety Jaquan Johnson is among the highest priorities in the Miami Hurricanes' 2015 recruiting class.
The 4-star recruit is in high demand, though, because he could attend a wide variety of universities in the ACC, SEC and even Pac-12.
Recruiting is largely a guessing game, and even the heaviest of leans sometimes unexpectedly choose a different program at which to continue playing football.
Nevertheless, here are five probable reasons why he will choose the Hurricanes.
Note: All recruit information courtesy of 247Sports.
Johnson stars at nearby Killian High School, and he has a long-standing relationship with current Miami starting safety Deon Bush.
Along with Tracy Howard and Antonio Crawford at a UM-hosted barbecue, Bush told him "to come out and represent our city," Johnson explained to David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required).
"They say they love it there. They want me to be a part of their team next year. They are always great guys to talk with."
Howard and Bush also played at Miami-area high schools, and the pair of top 2012 recruits elected to stay home at "The U."
"Doing it with guys I love in my hometown, that's the best part about playing at Miami," Howard said, per Dieter Kurtenbach of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Meanwhile, according to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel, Bush said he wanted to "put my city back on the map."
The safety can join the likes of Bush, Howard, Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman as State of Miami players who helped make the 'Canes relevant again.
Remains Atop Miami's Board
A player this good will be recognized by recruiters all over the country, especially in the South.
Per 247Sports, Johnson holds offers from Miami, Florida, Florida State, South Carolina, Clemson, LSU and 11 other schools.
However, according to Lake, the Hurricanes' coaching staff has been consistently recruiting Johnson for two years.
"Miami just tells me they want me," Johnson said. "They tell me how I can really fit in their defense with my style and how they like that I am a playmaker."
The 'Canes have made it clear the safety is of the highest priority, and that will not change until his letter of intent is officially sent.
Miami Remains in Top 2
Officially, Johnson has been non-committal about his leaders, though the 'Canes and the University of Florida are largely perceived as the top two schools on his list.
The Gators are very much a threat to Miami in this battle. Johnson told Lake the Florida coaches have said he is "at the top of their board" and "want me bad."
Over the course of his recruitment, Johnson has continually cited his relationship with UF defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, otherwise known as "T-Rob."
Interestingly, eight of the nine 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions are currently sending Johnson to Miami, while the other vote is in favor of Florida.
It's not a perfect prediction system, but it is a solid indicator of the biggest competitors.
Ties to Fellow 2015 Recruits
As is the case with many South Florida prospects, Johnson has a connection to a handful of local recruits in his class.
Current Miami commitment Jordan Cronkrite and key target Tim Irvin are two of the most recognizable players in Johnson's case.
Granted, Johnson has made clear this will be his own choice, even if it means splitting up for Cronkrite or Irvin.
"[Cronkrite] knows that I am going to make the best decision for me," he said, per Lake. "If we end up going different places, that will be how it goes."
While his connection to Florida is with the coaching staff, the appeal of The U is enhanced by teammates and friends. Johnson told Lake:
Jordan told me to come to Miami with him. He is a great player and it means a lot that he wants to play with me.
Miami said they want me and Tim Irvin at safety together. That means a lot that they think that highly of us. There are a lot of good safeties in Florida and I take pride in that. Me and Tim want to play together.
It's now a matter of waiting to see which one represents the bigger factor for Johnson.
Appealing Depth Chart
Recruits typically look for an individualized set of criteria in their preferred location—winning tradition, great coaches, teammates who love the game, proximity to home, academic programs and more.
However, a major factor in a recruit's decision is often the school's depth chart.
In this case, Miami presents one of the most appealing situations for a defensive back-heavy class in which Johnson is an esteemed member.
Following the 2015 season, the triumvirate of Rayshawn Jenkins, Dallas Crawford and Bush will no longer be eligible. Therefore, unless Artie Burns moves back to safety, the top three players at the position will be senior Jamal Carter and a pair of juniors in Kiy Hester and Marques Gayot.
Providing a significant boost in a major conference as a true freshman in the secondary is truly difficult—just ask Howard. After a full season learning behind veterans, Johnson would be in perfect position to climb the two-deep and become the next in the line of great Miami safeties.