Another FBD, another game-length look at an Under Armour All-American. This time we shift our attention back to Don Brown’s defense, in particular the secondary. Michigan gets one more year of Josh Metellus at Rover and Khaleke Hudson at Viper, but 2020 sees those positions vacated without odds-on favorites to step into their starting roles. (This assumes that Daxton Hill picks up the defensive playbook quickly, locks up the starting strong safety spot in 2019, and doesn’t relent until he leaves for pre-combine workouts.)
St. Johns College safety Quinten Johnson often draws the “rocked up” descriptor that Khaleke Hudson did as a recruit, but all-star camp reports made it sound like his skills predestine him for safety, while recently FBD’d Anthony Solomon seems to have the more Viper-y skill set.
We’re able to take a look at whether that seems to be the case outside the confines of camp drills thanks to our friends at the Worldwide Leader, which broadcast Johnson’s mid-October game against Maryland’s Our Lady of Good Counsel. Recruits in the game below pertinent to our discussion of Johnson include 2019 three-star Notre Dame signee WR Cam Hart, three-star Maryland signee OT Mason Lunsford, and two-star RB Latrele Palmer, who doesn’t appear to have signed with anyone but has offers from Air Force, Army, and Navy among others.
[After THE JUMP: every-snap film and scouting]
[Johnson is #11 and wearing a sleeve on his left arm. Also, a quick video note: the freezing on a couple plays isn’t on your end, it was in the copy of the game I found.]
[1:22] Johnson is still calling out coverage assignments to his teammates as the ball is snapped, and he doesn’t have his feet set as the receiver he’s pressing tears off the line. As a result he’s too high and can’t get an effective jam, which is the one thing he’s called upon to do on this play. We get a good look at his recovery skills, though, as he tugs on the receiver’s jersey just enough to not get called after getting beat, and from there is with him step for step. Johnson eventually uses two arms and strength to haul the receiver to the ground with minimal YAC. At 2:14 Johnson is set before the snap and jams the receiver into oblivion.
[6:24] Johnson shoves the receiver as he breaks inside and it looks like a busted coverage; I’m assuming he thought he had help there when instead the linebacker (?) shuffles outside and almost into Johnson, who looks like he’s angling his hips to slide toward the middle of the field. At this point the ball is on the two St. Johns players and a possible interception doinks off Johnson’s teammate.
[00:57] Backpedal, then changes directions and comes up quickly, then breaks down to read the play and avoiding just flashing into the wrong gap. Johnson misses on an attempt to shove the running back down, then goes over the pile and wraps up with both arms along the sideline.
[2:32] Johnson sees the back bounce outside and takes an angle to cut off the home-run run.
[2:51] Johnson is playing off and runs up when he sees it’s a run while stopping and cutting inside a block from his receiver. This start-stop-start-stop-start throws Johnson off his angle and gives the back a chance to cut around Johnson.
[3:15] Another quick adjustment and good angle in run cleanup.
[7:06] Smart to get his arm out early and try to push a blocking receiver out of the lane way as he takes an angle to meet the running back near the sideline, but the running back’s jump-cut back inside sees Johnson trying to tackle through the receiver as he smoothly changes direction to meet the back’s new path and then break down to hit with the receiver sandwiched between himself and the RB.
[2:22] Avoids the trap of following the motion man and stops quickly to close up the right gap once he sees it’s a run, though a teammate gets the hit on the RB first.
[3:03] Johnson stops on a dime to get inside a block attempt by the hulking TE he’s tasked with checking and avoid getting blown up.
[5:42] Fills hard and makes a really quick adjustment, showing excellent change of direction and good fundamentals in dragging down the ballcarrier.
[3:42] Johnson again shows his quickness, shooting a gap and almost getting a free shot at the running back if not for what appears to be a glancing blow from the fullback that hews Johnson down.
[4:21] It’s somewhat reassuring to see that Johnson doesn’t make the same mistake twice, avoiding the issue with finishing he had at 3:52. Johnson sees a lane open on the interior and the running back cut off the guard’s butt, and he flies up to fill the lane and lay a heavy hit.
[5:13] Johnson solves his problem with aggression, attacking the mesh point as he comes in unblocked off the edge and getting really close to twisting the running back down for a safety.
[5:31] Johnson waits a beat too long in the interest of shutting down the run without a threat to cover, but he closes the space between himself and the quarterback fairly quickly.
Overrun, athleticism helps adjustment
On the first snap, Johnson starts to pursue as the ball is placed in Palmer’s stomach. He keeps his path wide enough to meet Palmer near the sideline, where he almost overruns him and has to shove Palmer out with one arm.
[4:30] It looks like he overruns the lane by a step or two, but he stops and adjusts and is able to join in on the gang tackle.
[3:52] Perfectly timed run-through off motion and Johnson erases the space between himself and the running back in a blink, but Johnson pulls up too early as the back slams on the brakes and stiff-arms Johnson. The hand-fighting ends poorly for Johnson, as he ends up flat-footed and pushed away.
[5:50] Johnson reads the run well and breaks down in the right gap but it looks like he’s a beat too early, as he ends up unable to wrap up the running back and instead lunging with his forearms and falling off.
Johnson shows enough quickness changing direction to play safety in addition to excellent speed, which is probably his best trait at the moment. His footwork in coverage remains a question, as he wasn’t tested enough to render an opinion from the game above. He’s very responsible in the run game, and he usually takes good angles to the ballcarrier. Johnson also showed the athleticism to stop and correct course when he overran a ballcarrier, which happened enough to warrant a section in the scouting report above but seems like it will be less of an issue as the speed of the competition increases. One point of concern from the game scouted is his finishing; there were two instances where he could have posted highlight-reel plays if he ran through the ballcarrier but instead stopped a beat too soon. This may be a one-game anomaly, though, as his senior tape makes it seem that finishing is not at all an issue.
It seems that he’s a good fit at Rover who could eventually move to Viper should the need arise, but for now he's likely a Rover due to long speed that allows him to cover the flat or line up over the slot or a tight end in addition to run-consciousness that lends itself to Johnson playing in the box.