Michael Johnson Jr. described his father, a football coach for more than 20 years, and his future coach James Franklin as quite similar.
That’s one reason the quarterback from Oregon picked Penn State.
“They’re both a little crazy,” Johnson Jr. said of his father, Michael, and Franklin. “They both demand excellence, both hold their players to high standards and they both love hard. They coach hard but they love hard.”
Johnson Jr. is the long-distance player in Penn State’s 2019 recruiting class, arriving in State College after spending the last 10 years on the West Coast. He most recently lived in Eugene, Oregon, where his father has been Oregon’s receivers coach the past two years.
But Johnson Jr. said he really doesn’t call anywhere home, having lived in Oregon (twice), San Diego, Atlanta, Baltimore, the California bay area (twice) and Los Angeles. As a result, leaving for Penn State, where Johnson Jr. enrolled this week, didn’t make him homesick.
“I was looking for the best opportunity where I have a coach who makes me a better person off the field as much as he’s going to make me a better player on the field,” Johnson said before the Jan. 3 Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando. “And that’s what Coach Franklin has.”
Prepared recruit: Johnson Jr. also might be the most-prepared recruit of Penn State’s 2019 class, having grown up in the game. Michael Johnson Sr. was a record-setting quarterback at Akron, played in Canada and the World Football League and has been on college and NFL coaching staffs since 1997.
Johnson Sr. coached Doug Flutie in San Diego, Michael Vick in Atlanta and Derrick Mason in Baltimore. He was the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in 2010 and UCLA in 2011. Johnson Sr. even coached his son for two years at The King’s Academy in northern California before becoming Oregon’s receivers coach in 2017.
“Most of what I learned, though, isn’t even football stuff,” Johnson Jr. said. “I learned so many things outside the game of football, saw so many different things about what to do and what not to do: how to handle the media, how to handle a tough loss, how to handle things off the field. My dad always held me to a standard like that.”
"Gifted player:" Johnson Jr. threw for 7,300 yards and 86 touchdowns as a high school quarterback in California and Oregon. Josh Line, Johnson Jr.’s coach at Sheldon (Ore.) High, called the quarterback “the most physically gifted player I have ever coached.”
Johnson Jr. was the nation’s No. 8 dual-threat quarterback prospect, according to 247Sports, and joined ninth-ranked Taquan Roberson in Penn State’s class. Franklin said the both quarterbacks “really fit our profile.”
Johnson Sr. said he would not recruit his son to Oregon, choosing instead to remain a father through the process. He and Franklin have crossed paths in coaching and almost worked together in the early 2000s.
Atlanta offered Franklin a job coaching receivers when Johnson Sr. was the quarterbacks coach. Franklin ultimately stayed at Maryland, taking the Green Bay receivers position in 2005.
PSU hires receivers coach: Franklin announced the addition of Gerad Parker to his coaching staff as the wide receivers coach on Thursday.
Parker replaces David Corley, who was fired shortly after PSU's Citrus Bowl loss to Kentucky. Under Corley, PSU's receivers struggled mightily with dropped passes
Parker joins the Nittany Lions after a two-year stint at Duke University where he most recently served as the wide receivers coach for the 2018 season. Parker also spent four seasons at Purdue University where he was the tight ends (2013-14) and wide receivers (2015-16) coach, as well as recruiting coordinator. He also spent the final six weeks of the 2016 season as the Boilermakers interim head coach.
Before his time at Purdue, Parker spent two seasons as the wide receivers coach at Marshall University where he coached alongside Nittany Lion running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider.
Parker also spent three seasons at UT-Martin where he was the running backs coach in 2008 and wide receivers coach from 2009-10. He also served as the passing game coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 2010. He started his coaching career at Raceland (Kentucky.) High School and spent the 2007 season as a graduate assistant coach at Kentucky.
He was a four-year letterman at the University of Kentucky.