AUBURN | Kerryon Johnson knew the competition would be fierce at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge this weekend in Baltimore, Md.
The Auburn commitment from Madison (Ala.) Academy was part of a group that included fellow 4-stars Ronald Jones II and Soso Jamabo, 2016 5-star Jacques Patrick and 2017 phenom Dylan Moses.
But in the end, it was Johnson who earned the running back MVP trophy.
"It just means all the hard work I've been putting in is paying off," Johnson said. "That was a tough group of running backs. You had a lot of top players over there so just to be named No. 1 was tremendous. The linebackers were running the same 40's as some running backs. It was great just to see this type of competition, something you don't see every day back home."
Johnson, 6-foot and 200 pounds, showed off his quickness and speed during position drills and 1-on-1's. But it was during the 1-on-1's and later the 7-on-7 competitions that Johnson really showed off his entire skill set.
"He showed really good ball skills," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "Obviously, he's used to catching the football so I think that was an advantage. But the way he caught the ball on some badly thrown passes, behind him, he didn't slow down. I don't think he dropped a ball all weekend. In the 7-on-7, I don't think they utilized him properly but he was able to score a couple of touchdowns.
"I just think he's a dynamic guy. He's very fast, he's a three-down guy and he'll be a very versatile running back for Auburn. He might even be the overlooked guy with the JUCO kid coming in and everybody focusing on that, but I think he's a perfect fit in that offense where you want kids in space because that's what he does very well."
Johnson was one of two Auburn commits at the Rivals100 Challenge. He and linebacker Darrell Williams made sure to spend time with several prospects including 4-star offensive lineman Tyler Carr and 5-star defensive end Byron Cowart, who was named defensive line MVP.
"That was a prime goal of mine, just to make sure I showed off Madison Academy and Auburn around here and to make sure we have a good light on us and make sure everybody knows how we do it and that we do it the right way," Johnson said.
"We spent a lot of time with Tyler Carr, of course, because we flew down with him. A lot of guys I talked to were already committed to other places but I snuck my Auburn two cents in. Just a minute ago Byron Cowart was like, 'Man, I want to go to California.' I was like, 'No, Auburn is better than California.'"
Johnson has been slowed by a couple of injuries during his high school career, but said he's as healthy as he's been and gearing up for a big senior season.
"I feel a lot more explosive," he said. "I feel like my shoulder and hand, and everything, is healing up. I'm finally getting back into lifting mode trying to keep my weight at 200 and progress up. I felt great at this camp. It feels like nothing is holding me back and I'm in the best shape of my life."