ST. PETERSBURG – Over in Pinellas County, there is a true shutdown corner at St. Pete High by the name of Anthony Johnson Jr.
The 6’0″, 160-pounder hauled in a team-best five interceptions in his first varsity season as a sophomore. Johnson also had 31 tackles and 10 pass breakups. He took one of his interceptions back 47 yards for a score in a 57-16 victory over Seminole.
Johnson called his breakout season great and well expected personally.
“All praise goes out to defensive backs coach Shawn Davis,” Johnson told Prep Sports Scouting. “That guy is an unbelievable coach, he’s like an NFL type. He’s the one who has made me like this at this school.”
So far this year, he already has two interceptions, three pass breakups and a blocked field goal as the Green Devils own a 2-0 record.
Alongside a secondary that Johnson nicknamed the “Jack Boyz”, he says he believes that they are the best pass covering unit in the county.
The group consists of seniors Darrell Bullock, Jalynn Williams, Aaron McGriff and juniors Johnson and Tyre McClendon. They all run track and field together and with the exception of McClendon, who stands at 5’11”, they are 6’0″ or taller.
After missing out on the playoffs a year ago with a 6-4 record, Johnson knows what it will take to get back into the mix.
“Hard work, teamwork and dedication,” he said. “We are focused this year and have a pretty nice team too.”
Going up against Georgia commit and senior wide receiver Matthew Landers certainly helps Johnson and the “Jack Boyz” get better. Landers stands at 6’5″ and can break one at any moment.
“I go against the best wide receiver in the county every day,” Johnson said. “It helps me a lot. He’s a big guy who runs a 4.4 and we go back and forth some days.”
Although Johnson didn’t start organized football until the age of 12, he has always played the game around the neighborhood with his friends. He started as a running back, wide receiver and cornerback.
Little league is where he says he found his confidence and swag. He knows his abilites and that is clear when you watch him play.
Johnson pointed to technique, play recognition and speed as his biggest strengths. He’s trying to improve on everything every single day.
He currently holds four offers from Buffalo, Bowling Green, USF and Western Kentucky. Two big-time Division-I programs, Cincinnati and Indiana have been showing heavy interest in him as of late.
Johnson says he loves playing for 11th-year head coach Joe Fabrizio. Coach Fabrizio owns a 67-40 record and has led the Green Devils to four playoff appearances since taking over in 2006.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a college like program that gets you ready.”
His positional coach, Shawn Davis serves as his biggest role model.
“He’s a great coach and he hangs out with me after school hours, after practice hours,” Johnson said. “He checks up with me on the weekends.”
Johnson’s ultimate goal is to make it to the NFL. He is still figuring out his college major but he says he would like to do something like recruiting or sports reporting.
It’s hard to find a more confident defensive back in the area. This kid a legitimate playmaker and always puts himself in positions to make plays on the ball.
Anthony Johnson Jr. may only have four offers right now, but that is going to change very soon. He’s such a well-rounded corner and you can see his football IQ shine more often than not. Him and the “Jack Boyz” are clearly up for the task this season.
Favorite players to watch – Buccaneers CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey, Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson
Playlist before games – Famous Dex, Kodak Black, Lil Uzi Vert, Lud Foe, Notorious B.I.G and Tupac
Favorite TV shows – SEC Network and FX
Fun fact about you that no one knows – “I’ve always wanted to do gymnastics. I’m good at flipping. It’s fun.”
Nickname from your teammates or friends – “Apple Juice”, “Scarecrow”, “Showtime” and “AJ”
Game tape: Johnson’s Hudl tape
Photo credit: Tampa Bay Times
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.