The Oklahoman's Super 30: OSU commit Jaleel Johnson grew into a serious weapon for PC North

Scott Wright

During his freshman year at Putnam City North, Jaleel Johnson began to hit his growth spurt.

He grew long and lean, “which wasn’t really helpful for football,” Johnson said with a laugh.

“He was lanky and gangly, and kind of like a baby giraffe,” PC North coach Ryan Laverty said. 

But Johnson’s potential showed through the awkward stage.

“I knew he could be a very good high school football player and potentially play at the Division I level,” Laverty said. “Then in his sophomore year, he grew so fast, his body couldn’t keep up with him. It kind of limited him through his sophomore year. But he hit the weight room, got bigger. His body finally caught up to him, and he had a stellar junior campaign and was a force that nobody really knew about yet.”

Now, Johnson is a known commodity. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end received 18 scholarship offers and committed to Oklahoma State last month. He’s rated No. 14 on The Oklahoman’s Super 30 recruit rankings for the class of 2022.

Putnam City North football player Jaleel Johnson is No. 14 on The Oklahoman's Super 30.

But getting to this point wasn’t an easy road. 

“My sophomore year, the growth plates in my knees weren’t keeping up with my body, so my knees would hurt pretty bad,” Johnson said. “Once they caught up, I was good.”

As part of his growth spurt, Johnson’s arms grew long. He has a 6-foot-10 wingspan, which has become one of his favorite weapons when dealing with offensive tackles. 

More:OSU Cowboys Sports Minute

With his long arms and explosive speed off the line of scrimmage, he can hit offensive linemen before they’re ready to block him.

“My long-arm move is my most-used weapon,” Johnson said. “They can’t do much about it when I just stick my arms out. Guys will come up to me after the game and be like, ‘Man, you got some long arms.’

“It’s effective and I’m gonna keep using it.”

After his body grew, Johnson just had to add some muscle to it and learn to use his weapons to his advantage.

“You combine that 6-10 wingspan with a 4.6-second 40, he’s putting linemen on their rear pretty fast,” Laverty said. “It’s really rare to have a kid his size with that wingspan and quickness — you can’t coach that. If he does everything else right, that just adds to it.

“He can chase down quarterbacks and running backs. He can grab both of them at the handoff if he needs to. He’s a beast in the backfield.”

More:OU Sooners Sports Minute

And Johnson isn’t a one-trick defensive end, either. He can use his body and speed to his advantage with a variety of moves coming out of his three-point stance. 

For Johnson, chasing ball-carriers is only a piece of the bigger goal this fall at PC North.

“We definitely have a chance for a gold ball,” Johnson said. “If we all stay focused, stay in the weight room, stay on our grind, we’ll make it past the second round of the playoffs.”

Putnam City North defensive end Jaleel Johnson committed to Oklahoma State last weekend.

The Oklahoman’s 2022 Super 30

Name: Jaleel Johnson

School: Putnam City North

Super 30 ranking: No. 14

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 240 pounds

Position: Defensive end

Committed to: Oklahoma State

About the series

The Oklahoman’s Super 30 feature series will spotlight each high school football player on the Super 30 recruit rankings for the 2022 class. The series continues Wednesday with No. 14, Putnam City North’s Jaleel Johnson. See No. 13 on the list in Thursday’s editions of The Oklahoman.

Here are the last five players we’ve featured:

No. 18: Duncan Parham II, LB, Norman North

No. 17: Jake Clifton, LB, Owasso

No. 16: Dontierre Fisher, RB, Checotah 

No. 15: Mason Gilkey, WR, Pawhuska

No. 14: Jaleel Johnson, DE, Putnam City North