After establishing himself as one of the city’s best cornerbacks last season, McKinley Tech sophomore Patrick Johnson II has received his first offer from Illinois – and his stock could be on the rise ahead of his planned transfer to Bullis in the fall.

Johnson is in the midst of finishing off an intense academic schedule at McKinley Tech this month –  a load with three honors classes, including an advanced engineering course as well as Chinese language study, he said. But Johnson also kicked off his summer football slate with a camp at Maryland Sunday, joining other top area recruits at the one-day combine.

McKinley Tech defensive back Patrick Johnson II (2), seen here defending a pass in last year's Gravy Bowl, has received his first offer from Illinois. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post) McKinley Tech defensive back Patrick Johnson II (2), seen here defending a pass in last year’s Gravy Bowl, has received an offer from Illinois. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Illinois gave Johnson II his recruiting breakthrough about 10 days ago, and it capped a strong sophomore campaign. The 6-foot, 185-pounder was one of McKinley Tech’s best wide receivers (he caught five touchdown passes), but he fully committed to defensive back and blossomed. He recorded six interceptions and added a kick return for another touchdown, and was a key piece in helping the Trainers (9-5) win the inaugural Gravy Bowl and reach the DCSAA playoffs.

“My mind was on playing wide receiver. I didn’t plan on playing defense, but my coach told me money is on defense,” Johnson II said  of last season with the Trainers. “It meant a lot to me, for me to have six interceptions. … I didn’t expect that.” Johnson has also received interest from a number of schools, including Virginia Tech, where he plans to attend a camp during the summer. He also plans to visit Illinois once this summer, he said, and has set his sights on returning for the school’s homecoming game next fall. “It tested me emotionally,” Johnson said of receiving his first offer. “It gives me a chance to get a free education. That’s the main goal with playing football.”

The Illini, who finished 4-8 in their first season under Tim Beckman last fall, are targeting Johnson as a defensive back. Johnson plans to transfer to Bullis, where he could become the latest high-profile recruit to play for the Bulldogs. The school already boasts Penn State recruit Jonathan Holland and highly touted senior running back Devonte Williams, plus rising junior quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. has emerged as one of the country’s top quarterback recruits in recent months.

“It has a college atmosphere,” Johnson II said of Bullis, adding that its a bittersweet feeling leaving McKinley Tech. “As a football team, because it’s basically  like family, it means a lot to be able to bond with players. … You can’t focus on the past. You have to keep moving forward.” Highlights of Johnson can be found here.

NUMBER CRUNCH: 20

Seconds left in regulation when T.C. Williams forward Eryk Williamson scored the equalizing  goal against McLean on Friday, and he added the game-winner in overtime to send the Titans to the 6A North Region semifinals. 

BREAKFAST LINKS –Lake Braddock’s Rachel Moody picked the perfect time to score her first goal of the season, helping the Bruins advance in the 6A North Region girls’ soccer quarterfinals against Robinson. — The Shipley School, a prep academy in Pennsylvania, took a groundbreaking stance last week by banning headers for its middle school soccer teams amid growing concerns over head injuries. — Osbourn Park’s Kiana Hairston had a banner day by sweeping three events and headlining the 6A North Region track meet this weekend.

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