Johnson Jr. relishes latest opportunity with Williams, NU staff
OAK PARK, Calif. - Nebraska receivers coach Keith Williams was running a group of 20 or so wide outs through some fundamental position drills during Sunday’s Calabasas satellite camp when he noticed something wasn’t quite right.
While he was on one side of a group of six lines of players taking reps, the Huskers’ prized receiver commit in attendance - four-star Calabasas (Calif.) standout Keyshawn Johnson Jr. - was down on the other side.
“Key!” Williams yelled. “Where’s Key!? Get over in this line here!”
Johnson obliged to his future coach, and he spent the rest of the camp sticking by Williams’ side through the remainder of the positional work and on into the one-on-one portion.
As much as Williams wanted to make sure he was coaching up Johnson as much as possible, Johnson wanted to learn from Williams even more.
“The things that he teaches me are just mind-boggling,” Johnson said. “Sometimes the things that he says just make so much sense that it doesn’t even make sense how easy the game can be. It’s surreal to me to have a coach like that. I’m lucky to have one of the best receiving coaches in the country to be my coach, and I’m just excited. It’s a great, great situation.
“I love getting coached by Coach Williams and all the staff. Just being around them is always a great feeling, and I just can’t wait to be at Nebraska.”
Johnson said he learns something new from Williams every time they meet, which has been quite a bit over the past year and especially since he gave Nebraska his verbal commitment back in March.
On Sunday, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder said he once again added a few more tricks to his repertoire after his two hours working with Williams.
“I learned three different ways to get out of press coverage,” Johnson said. “If they’re like two yards off the ball as opposed to right on you, there’s different ways to stem them inside or outside. Different stances and using your eyes to catch the ball. It’s always stuff like that, things I didn’t even think about before.”
Sunday marked the last time Johnson will get to do any on-field work with Williams until he arrives in Lincoln as an early enrollee for the start of spring practice in 2017.
He’ll be making a few more visits to NU before then, though, including his upcoming official visit.
At this point, Johnson said he’s still planning on taking his official on the weekend Nebraska hosts Oregon on Sept. 17. He added that even if the game ends up being scheduled for an 11 a.m. kick, it won’t stop him from making the trip.
“We have a game (Friday night), so we might just take the red-eye flight to get there like an hour before the game,” Johnson said. “I’m praying that it’s a night game, though.”
Johnson’s father, former USC and NFL star Keyshawn Johnson Sr., was also in attendance for the camp. As might be expected, he was keeping a very close eye on how his son was faring.
But Johnson Sr. is making sure to let Williams and the rest of Nebraska’s staff worry about coaching up Johnson Jr. on the field.
His goal is to make sure his son is fully prepared for all of the hurdles that will surely come off the field when his son arrives in Lincoln as one of the mist highly-touted recruits in recent memory.
“I tell him it’s on you,” Johnson Sr. said. “I’ve got a degree. I made a lot of money in the pros. I can go to my ATM machine. It’s up to you. It’s all up to you. It ain’t up to me, it’s up to you. I tell him the same thing I would tell my nephew or my little son: I’ve already lived. I’ve laid the foundation, the groundwork, the expectations. It’s all on you.
"You’re going to be graded harder by people - way harder - than I ever was, because you are my son. People want to see you success, but they also want to see you fail so they can say ‘haha’. But don’t give them the opportunity to. That’s really the only thing I ever try to tell him. I don’t try to control anything.”