2017 Season Countdown: #43 Nate Johnson

2017 Season Countdown: #43 Nate Johnson

July 20, 2017

Nate Johnson (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Nate Johnson
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 185 lbs.
High school: Thompson’s Station (TN) Independence
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Sophomore
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


  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1357
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Jul 20, 2017 at 2:45 PM

    I don’t care who gets the job of returning punts, that guy is in deep excrement, as the last guy is an absolute impossible act to have to follow.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jul 20, 2017 at 5:57 PM

    “I could make an argument to rank him lower, and I can’t think of any reasons to place him higher.”

    Sometimes the “you should have ranked this guy lower” comments are already written in the post.

    Too many RBs and WRs in the top 50.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Jul 20, 2017 at 6:02 PM

      It’s too soon to give up on Johnson and it’s worth taking the spring stuff with a grain of salt. If he’s really leading for PR duties there’s probably a reason for it. Michigan doesn’t have an experienced player to put back there as an alternative so inexperience is going to be an issue with whoever they go with.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jul 20, 2017 at 6:01 PM

    I’m generally against worrying about red-shirts as a matter of principle, but this kind of thing is pretty silly. If you haven’t seen it useful to play a guy before the point of no-return hits (the time when you can’t retroactively declare a guy who played early in the year to be injured and therefore red-shirt eligible) you shouldn’t use them unless you need to.

    Yeah, Johnson’s maybe not going to be an impact guy but it’s still useful to retain the red-shirt — for the player if not the team.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 182
      Joined: 9/15/2015
      Jul 20, 2017 at 8:58 PM

      maybe they liked what they saw from him early but had no real need to rely on him – then realized they should push for additional look and reevaluate slot reps after perry had his incident. not sure of the timing but that could be a reason. maybe they repped johnson a bit more in practice after perry got in trouble and they wanted to see how he handled game duty in case they really needed another slot down the stretch. they could just roll with more of standard 12 or 22 personnel or go bigger but maybe they wanted to see what the kid could do. no clue on the timing or whatever. just a thought

  4. Painter Smurf
    Comments: 263
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Painter Smurf
    Jul 20, 2017 at 7:35 PM

    I think Webb had reported that Johnson had a good spring at slot, and perhaps was moving ahead of McDoom. But he obviously had a rough scrimmage. Wait and see.

  5. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jul 20, 2017 at 7:55 PM

    With so many slot options and none of them a clear favorite to displace the unexceptional incumbent (Perry), it’s hard to rate any of them as being very important, IMO.

    I don’t know what the latest is on McDoom (inside, outside, or both) but he may be the highest ceiling option. Excluding him you’re still loaded: Perry, Johnson, Martin, Schoenle at a position that only gets situational use (even though those situations are often high leverage).

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