Name: Nate Johnson
Weight: 185 lbs.
High school: Thompson’s Station (TN) Independence
Position: Wide receiver
Jersey number: #25
Last year: I ranked Johnson #94 and said he would redshirt. He played in three games, making 1 catch for 4 yards.
TTB Rating: 76
I don’t know why Nate Johnson didn’t redshirt last year. His deployment makes little to no sense. Late in the year – ensuring a burned redshirt – he caught 1 pass for 4 yards against Illinois, and that’s all he did. Now maybe keeping a fifth year in your back pocket for someone like Nate Johnson isn’t worth a great deal, but at least it would be an option in 2020 if both parties are interested.
I don’t trust Nate Johnson. I don’t like young guys returning punts, especially when they haven’t proven themselves as star players. Additionally, when we saw him in the spring game, he muffed a punt and fumbled a slant route. His hands and concentration are questionable, and yet, he appears to be the front-runner for the punt returning job. I could make an argument to rank him lower, and I can’t think of any reasons to place him higher. There are other guys on the roster who should be able to do just as good of a job, but maybe he’ll be lightning with the ball in his hands if we ever get a chance to see it. My guess is that if he starts the year as the punt returner, he won’t end it that way.
Prediction: Starting punt returner for part of the season; backup slot receiver