Football notebook: Joliet Catholic’s Dillan Johnson and Bolingbrook’s Kyan Berry Johnson commit and Charlie Bliss retires

Kyan Berry Johnson, a three-star receiver ranked 24th among Illinois juniors, committed to Wisconsin last month.

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Bolingbrook’s Kyan Berry Johnson (2) catches a deflected ball over Lincoln-Way East’s Zach Welker (4).

Bolingbrook’s Kyan Berry Johnson (2) catches a deflected ball over Lincoln-Way East’s Zach Welker (4).

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Dillan Johnson has been playing football since kindergarten and wrestling since second grade.

He’s a junior now at Joliet Catholic and that’s usually around the time when athletes with college potential in multiple sports have to pick a lane.

But Johnson doesn’t want to make a choice. So earlier this month, the 6-2, 284-pound defensive tackle committed to Northwestern for football and wrestling.

Johnson is a consensus three-star prospect in football ranked 20th among Illinois juniors in the 247Sports.com composite rankings. He has 17 offers, including Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas State and Iowa State.

But he’s an even bigger catch in the wrestling world, ranking as the No. 10 recruit in his class regardless of weight according to Flowrestling.com.

With a 4.81 grade-point average, Johnson is smart enough to know that competing in two sports at the Power Five level — especially a pair with overlapping seasons — is a huge challenge.

“It is on our list,” Johnson said. “We’re still trying to figure everything out. [But] we’re going to focus on both sports.”

He’s 77-0 with a pair of Class 2A 285-pound titles across two wrestling seasons; the state meet was canceled because of the pandemic his freshman year.

But Rivals national recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove likes Johnson’s upside in football as well.

“He’s an interesting prospect,” Cosgrove said, “He doesn’t have the prototypical big-time frame. What he lacks in length and size — he’ll bulk up and get bigger — he makes up for in being an incredibly skilled athlete. ... It’s a huge get for Northwestern.”

Joliet Catholic defensive tackle Dillan Johnson is a three-star prospect who committed to Northwestern for football and wrestling but has now switched to Wisconsin.

Joliet Catholic defensive tackle Dillan Johnson is a three-star prospect who committed to Northwestern for football and wrestling.

Provided

Johnson is the latest in a series of talented athletes in his family. His dad, Eric Sr., played pro football in Canada, and his brother, Eric Jr., is a defensive tackle heading into his second NFL season with the Colts.

He credits his dad with helping to navigate the recruiting process, which was slowed by the pandemic.

“:He showed me what’s important to look for in a college and what’s not important,” Johnson said.

On that list: academics, a good fit with the coaching staff — and the chance to keep chasing his dreams in multiple sports.

Northwestern checked all those boxes.

Badgers land ‘Brook receiver

Kyan Berry Johnson, a three-star receiver ranked 24th among Illinois juniors, committed to Wisconsin last month.

“For the longest time, I thought he was a special player,” Cosgrove said of the 5-10, 162-pounder. “Maybe the best ball skills I’ve ever seen in my life. If he’s within 10 feet of a ball, he’s going to come up with it.

“He’s as polished a route runner as I’ve seen.”

Maine South’s Bliss retires

Maine South’s Charlie Bliss, one of the most successful offensive coordinators in the state, has retired.

Bliss was on the Hawks’ staff for 34 years, including 22 as offensive coordinator. In the latter role, he helped Maine South to four Class 8A state titles, four state runner-up finishes and 20 Central Suburban South championships.

Among the players he coached were a pair of offensive linemen currently on NFL rosters: Peter Skoronski, a first-round draft pick of the Titans this year, and Kevin Jarvis, who signed a free-agent deal with the Bills last month.

Maine South’s football program announced Bliss’ retirement on Twitter, adding, “Charlie — you will be missed.”

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