JACKSONVILLE – Bolles has quickly turned into a powerhouse in the state of Florida. With that notion, the quarterback position garners a lot of attention there like most schools.
For the Bulldogs, 2018 passer Josiah Johnson is set to take over the reigns from Mac Jones, a senior who is currently enrolled at Alabama. Bolles finished 12-1 this past season appearing in the Class 4A state title game, losing to Cocoa 31-17.
At 6’5″, 203 lbs., everyone who watches the Bulldogs will know that a different passer is under center this season. Johnson is ready to thrive after sitting behind one of the brightest quarterback minds in Jones.
“I learned a lot from Mac [Jones],” Johnson told Prep Sports Scouting. “I studied and learned from what he did well so I can implement it into my game, but I also learned from his mistakes so that I won’t make the same mistakes he did. Being behind Mac and not receiving much playing time made me hungrier to be the best quarterback I can be and work harder than anyone else.”
A starter for the JV team as a freshman, Johnson earned the promotion to varsity late that season. Ever since then, he’s being soaking it all in and waiting for his opportunity.
Johnson is pumped to represent the Bulldogs as the starting quarterback.
“Bolles has a winning tradition that you can feel every practice and game,” he said. “I love putting on that orange and blue and playing for my team and Bolles’ rich history. As I run onto the field every time I just thank God for the opportunity and think how I want to play football for the rest of my life.”
Besides the quarterback position, the sidelines will also look different with legendary Corky Rogers stepping down. He leaves as the state’s all-time winningest coach with a 465-84-1 record between Lee (1972-88) and Bolles (1989-2016).
Taking over for Rogers is his longtime assistant Wayne Belger, who played at Lee during the 1970’s and coached there after and then at Bolles, both with Rogers. Johnson says he is sad Rogers is leaving but also very excited for Belger to be the new coach.
“Coach Berger and I have a great bond because every morning we go over film and study plays and I think he will open up the offense a little bit more,” Johnson said. “I learned so much from coach Rogers, he taught me how to be mentally tough and to work harder than anyone, but one of the greatest lessons he taught me was to not settle and always strive for perfection.”
For Johnson, football began for him back in the 3rd grade. One sunny day in North Carolina with his brother, Jeremiah (a 2020 quarterback at Bolles) and dad, the three of them went to a community pool. There were no lifeguards on duty, so they were ready to leave, but noticed football signups hung up on the wall.
Wearing crocs and swim trunks, he showed up to the practice and wound beating everyone in the warmup lap. The coaches placed him at running back and defensive end. Then, in 6th grade, he made the move to quarterback.
He says he started to gain confidence in his ability as a passer while training with DeBartolo Sports quarterback instructor Ryan Walker. The training there began in the summer of his 8th grade year.
“Coach Walker believed in me, helped me fundamentally and mentally get to where I am today,” Johnson said.
He credits Walker for improving his throwing motion. Johnson says he use to watch videos to learn how to throw, but his hands on work with Walker has changed that.
Johnson also learns from DeBartolo Sports lead quarterback instructor Joe Dickinson.
“Coach D has really helped me learn what a true quarterback is and how he should carry himself and how to be a leader,” he said. “Both [Walker and Dickinson] have helped me tremendously in the knowledge of the game.”
In terms of his best attributes, Johnson pointed to his size, speed, arm strength and competitive spirit. Experience is something that he said was a weakness, but that will come this season as the No. 1 guy.
Before football started for Johnson, he was a basketball player. That is a sport he plays for Bolles varsity and has since the 1st grade. He says it helps with his explosion, conditioning and speed. He simply loves competing.
Currently, Louisville, Tennessee, Troy, North Carolina and Nebraska have all shown interest in Johnson thus far.
Johnson has lofty goals for himself on and off the field with the sport.
“My ultimate goal is to be a dominant quarterback in the NFL. But first I want to play on scholarship at a big school and win a national title,” he said. “Off the field, I want football to help provide for my family now and my future family.”
Johnson is about to step into a very good opportunity at Bolles. The school has moved up to Class 5A and he’s certainly primed for the chance to be the next big thing to come out of the program. Look for him to have a solid season and draw a lot of attention from Division-I colleges very soon.
Favorite players to watch – Patriots QB Tom Brady
Favorite movies – My All-American and Superman
Favorite TV shows – The Office
Fun fact about you that you think no one knows – “I like to draw and I love to play beach volleyball.”
Nickname(s) from teammates or friends – “JJ”
Game film: Johnson’s Youtube tape
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.