Jadar Johnson leaning on network of former Clemson players as draft nears


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Jadar Johnson smiles at the NFL Scouting Combine
Jadar Johnson smiles at the NFL Scouting Combine

Jadar Johnson has been a busy man in the two months since Clemson defeated Alabama and won the National Championship. So busy, in fact, that he hasn’t had time to really reflect on what was accomplished.

He has other things he has to do first, and he has a network of former Clemson players helping him in the process.

The former Clemson safety and Orangeburg native is preparing for the NFL Draft, and that includes workouts, a trip to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine, Pro Day at Clemson last week and being honored by his hometown earlier this week.

Johnson and Albert Huggins were honored by Orangeburg County Council, each with a resolution recognizing their contributions to the 2016 National Champion Clemson Tigers and “outstanding achievement.”

After receiving the honor and meeting with members of the council, Johnson said he hasn’t had time to think about the win over Alabama.

“It’s been great. It’s been one of the most incredible journeys of my life, but, really, I just have to throw that in the back of my mind—the national championship—just because I had to get right into training,” Johnson said. “It was a quick celebration, because I had to get focused for the things ahead of me.”

Johnson said he’s been fortunate in that he has a lot of “older brothers” that he can call when he has questions about the future.

“I talked to a lot of players, but it’s not just for this moment right here. I’ve been talking to them for a long time,” Johnson said. “A lot of guys, and I can’t really state any specific names because it’s just so many that it’s cluttered up in my mind. I always talk to former Clemson players, and just the network of Clemson players it’s like those players are older brothers to us and they never leave our side. I could really call somebody that played in 1995, the year I was born, and call somebody and they would be willing to talk. The network of Clemson football players is great. All of their phones are always open to all of us.”

Johnson was one of the standouts at the scouting combine in Indianapolis – he ran an official 4.60 for the 40-yard dash event (42nd among DBs). His speed agility drills included a fast 20-yard shuttle time of 4.20 seconds (tied for 16th among DBs) and a 60-yard shuttle of 11.50 seconds (6th among DBs).
He had an impressive display at the bench press with 19 reps of 225 pounds which was sixth best among the 49 defensive backs. His vertical jump was 33 inches (tied for 36th among DBs) while he had a 10-foot broad jump of 119.0 inches (tied for 35th among DBs) and had a 3-cone drill of 6.90 seconds (tied for 17th among DBs).

“That was a great experience, it was more tiring than I thought. It was a lot of medical stuff going on, but as far as the experience I had never been up there,” he said. “It was a nice experience just being there, and then just going through all of the interviews with different teams and then actually performing in front of all of those teams. It was something different, but a lot of fun too.

“I got a lot of good feedback. I was talking with some teams and I feel like my stock rose a little bit from my performance there. Then I went to Pro Day and got my 40 time down a little lower—that’s what they were looking for. I really feel like the last few weeks have been successful for me.”

He followed that with another impressive performance at Pro Day in Clemson last week.

“It was definitely just like the combine, but just being at home,” Johnson said. “Everything was more comfortable for me, being out there doing my drills on the field that I practiced on so much. It was definitely more comfortable for me and I was more relaxed out there.

“Those were definitely two successful things for me. The combine went great. The only thing was that I wanted to get my 40 down a little bit lower, so I came and got it down lower at Pro Day. It was really like those two worked together—like it was the same performance, just split in half. I feel like I finished up with a good performance at Pro Day.”

Johnson said he’s hearing from many of the NFL teams, but three have stood out.

“I’ve talked to at least 20 teams, but the top three teams that stick out to me right now—I’ve been talking to the Jaguars a lot, I’ve been talking to the Chargers and I’ve been talking to the Vikings,” he said. “Those are the top three right now. I’ve been talking to them a lot.

“With those teams, they said that I fit the type of need that they need for a safety. They haven’t really talked rounds or how early or how late they will pick me, but they still said that their interest is real high with those three teams.”

Who would he pick if he could choose his NFL team?

“I’d pick Miami—just because I’ve been a Miami fan for so long,” he said. “I’d definitely try to go down there and try to help those boys out.”

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