Franklyn Johnson Jr. was determined to play quarterback and nothing else at Little Elm High School in Texas.
He succeeded his first two seasons, taking the snaps for the Lobos’ freshman team and backing up four-year starter John Mateer as a sophomore. But Johnson’s perspective began to change his junior year as his role on the team began to expand — and college recruiters starting sniffing around.
“This time last year he was still in quarterback mode,” said former Little Elm head coach Kendrick Brown, who stepped down in April to became an assistant athletic director at the school. “But the more positions he played, the more everyone — himself included — realized he could compete with almost anyone at all of them.”
Johnson played wide receiver, safety and cornerback last season, but he plans to begin his college career at what he called his natural position: cornerback.
Johnson announced his verbal commitment to Boise State on Twitter on Thursday, becoming the sixth pledge in the Broncos’ 2023 recruiting class and the second to come out of Texas in the past three days. Anna High School running back Jambres “Breezy” Dubar joined the class on Tuesday.
1000% COMMITTED #BleedBlue #BleedBlue23 @AABroncoHC @D_Co0p @Coach_SD @DemarioWarren @TrustMyEyesO @TrueBuzzFB @BHoward_11 @Perroni247 @Coach_JoeyMoss @EmmaJohnson_01 @JCastilloHFC pic.twitter.com/Q2Sj6LVvmn
— ✞ Franklyn Johnson Jr (@Franklyn_J25) June 23, 2022
Echoing Dubar’s sentiments, Johnson said he picked Boise State after visiting campus on June 17-18 because it made him feel like he was still back home in the Dallas Metroplex.
“The environment and the hospitality were amazing, the facilities were great and all the coaches treated me like family,” Johnson told the Statesman. “I went to Alabama, Florida State and some big-time schools the week before on a college tour, but Boise State sold me and I didn’t need to see anything else.”
He hasn’t been rated by 247Sports or Rivals yet, but Johnson also has scholarship offers from Colorado State, Utah State, UNLV, Navy, Louisiana Tech, Georgetown, Sam Houston State, Northern Arizona and Florida A&M. He’s the third recruit to join the Broncos’ class in the past three days, following St. Thomas Aquinas (Florida) wide receiver Jackson Grier, who committed on Wednesday.
Johnson (6-foot, 175 pounds) is the first defensive back to join the class, and the Broncos couldn’t have picked a better program to pluck him out of.
Little Elm has earned a reputation among college football recruiters as a defensive back factory. Ryan Watts (Ohio State/Texas), Terrance Brooks (Texas), Brandon Crossley (SMU) and Keyshon Mills (Colorado) all played for the Lobos in recent years, and Brown said Johnson is as talented as any of them.
“He’s a very smart kid, and he has the ability to understand where the ball is going against certain coverages,” Brown said. “When you combine his athleticism with all those smarts, you get a real special athlete.”
Johnson expects to play cornerback and wide receiver again this fall at Little Elm, which is now under the direction of head coach Joe Castillo. Johnson said he also won’t hesitate to get back under center if the team needs it. He said being able to see the game as a quarterback makes him even more dangerous as a defensive back.
“Playing quarterback your whole life, you’re used to reading defenses, knowing what people are supposed to do and how the other team is trying to stop you,” Johnson said. “I’m also a very physical player and have never avoided contact, so laying a hit on a bigger receiver is nothing new to me.”
If he signs with Boise State, Johnson will join a cornerback group that is flush with talent but will face some turnover in the next couple of years. Caleb Biggers (fifth-year) and Jared Reed (sixth-year) are entering their final season of eligibility. Markel Reed (senior) and Tyric LeBeauf (redshirt senior) may also end up moving on after this season.
Boise State’s 2023 recruiting class
QB CJ Tiller, 6-3, 200, Rancho Cucamonga (California) High
LB Wyatt Milkovic, 6-1, 233, Basha (Arizona) High
OL Jason Steele, 6-4, 280, Murrieta Valley (California) High
RB Jambres Dubar, 6-0, 200, Anna (Texas) High
WR Jackson Grier, 6-0, 175, St. Thomas Aquinas High (Florida)
CB Franklyn Johnson Jr., 5-11, 175, Little Elm (Texas) High