2017 Season Countdown: #71 Ron Johnson, Jr.

2017 Season Countdown: #71 Ron Johnson, Jr.

June 16, 2017

Ron Johnson, Jr. (image via MWolverine)

Name: Ron Johnson, Jr.
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 245 lbs.
High school: Camden (NJ) Camden
Position: Defensive end
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #17
Last year: I ranked Johnson #73 and said he would redshirt. He redshirted.
TTB Rating: 83

Johnson came into last season as a relatively unpolished player with some decent upside, and with Michigan’s depth on the defensive line, the chances of him playing were slim. Michigan got a ton of production from the guys who did play, and Johnson wasn’t ready, anyway.

This spring Johnson was playing some defensive tackle, and it was hard to figure out the reason. He didn’t appear to be significantly bigger. The most likely reason is that Michigan didn’t have a ton of options at defensive tackle, combined with Johnson perhaps still not being a decent option for playing time on the outside. If the staff were counting on him to contribute heavily this fall, they would probably be giving him reps at the position he’s likely to play. I think Johnson is at least a year away from playing significant minutes, and we’ll see whether they continue to bulk him up for an interior position.

Prediction: Backup defensive end


  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jun 16, 2017 at 10:56 AM

    Reminds me of when Lloyd Carr made Brandon Graham (~250 pounds and a linebacker in HS) play DT. I think the intent was developing his skillset as a linemen so he could be a better DE. Obviously he was never going to be big enough to be a meaningful contributor as an interior player. I don’t think Johnson has Graham’s talent, but the same thinking may apply.

    Everyone seems to be very high on Johnson as a character guy and there are open opportunities along the DL. I’m sure he’ll play and will start out ahead of the new arrivals. We’ll see if and how many of the freshman DL can pass Johnson over. I’m inclined to agree with this ranking because there are so many of them and most of them are highly regarded.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jun 18, 2017 at 1:39 PM

      IIRC, Graham got out of shape as a freshman, and playing him at DT was kind of a punishment. Basically, “If you keep getting fatter, this is where you’re going to be playing.” I think he was up around 280 lbs. by the time he hit campus. That’s what got him to slim down to 260 or so and play DE.

  2. Painter Smurf
    Comments: 263
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Painter Smurf
    Jun 16, 2017 at 10:16 PM

    The problem with Johnson needing another year is that UM recruited like 3 or 4 DE’s in the following class. The fact that there were using him as practice fodder at DT this spring is not a good sign. And also looks like Jeter already moved past him. With the number of young DL coming in, Johnson needs to make at least a small impact this fall or he could get buried quickly.

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