It was just a few weeks ago when the Virginia Cavaliers landed their final commitment of the 2019 recruiting class in defensive lineman Jeffrey M’Ba. On the last day of March, UVA added a 2020 commitment: Gonzaga center Jestus Johnson announced he would be coming to Charlottesville.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Johnson is a three-star on 247 and Rivals. He holds Power Five offers from West Virginia and Rutgers, along with Cincinnati, East Carolina, and ODU.
One of the most important traits for a center is being quick out of your stance to reset your base after the snap. Johnson shows that in just about every rep on this film. He redirects pass rushers well, which shows his ability to diagnose blitz schemes and counter them with the offense’s pass protection calls. Johnson works really well in double teams in the run game, folding and trapping well with his guards. On screen plays or pulls that require blocking in space, Johnson shows surprising athleticism for someone with his stout build.
His biggest area of improvement will need to be how he uses his hands: too often he initiates blocking contact with his shoulder instead of delivering a jarring strike. Against bigger competition—the kinds of guys he’ll face in the ACC trenches—Johnson doesn’t move his man consistently without double-team help. But adding punch and strength to his sturdy build and low center of gravity should give Virginia a very serviceable addition to the rotation at center or guard.
One other note: Johnson is linemates with four-star tackle Olu Fashanu, who is drawing heavy interest from all the big boys (Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, etc.). The Hoos got their foot in the door at Gonzaga in 2019 with four-star linebacker Hunter Stewart. Following up with Johnson is a good sign; adding Fashanu would be a massive coup.