Johnson previously visited M with his Prattville teammates [Photo via 247]
The satellite camp tour has produced its third commitment in three days. Prattville (AL) outside linebacker Dytarious Johnson quickly accepted Michigan's offer after putting on an impressive performance in front of the coaching staff yesterday. The Wolverines were the first Power 5 offer for Johnson, who at the moment of his commitment only had a recruiting profile on Rivals, which gives him a perfunctory two stars.
Johnson is Michigan's third commitment from Prattville since Jim Harbaugh took over, joining incoming freshman CB Keith Washington and 2016 RB Kingston Davis. Prior to Harbaugh's arrival, the Wolverines hadn't landed a prospect from any Alabama high school since Madison Bob Jones RB Max Martin in 2004. While Johnson's commitment came as a surprise, he's been on the coaches' radar since they recruited Washington and Davis, and his strong showing at the satellite camp sealed his offer, per Sam Webb:
“When I went and visited (with Davis in April) they told me they wanted to evaluate me more,” Johnson recalled. “They wanted me to come to their (satellite) camp (in Prattville), and I guess they liked what they saw (because) they offered me today. So I wanted to commit.”
“(Harbaugh) told me, ‘congratulations and welcome to the team.’”
Johnson is the tenth commit in Michigan's class of 2016, and the third at linebacker, joining Dele' Harding and David Reese. (Reese could potentially end up at fullback.)
|NR WLB||2* OLB||NR OLB||NR ILB||NR ILB|
While it's safe to expect Johnson will at least rise into the three-star range as he gets more exposure, the recruiting services are still cobbling together profiles for him at the moment; Rivals remains the lone outlet to give him a ranking. The four sites are in relative agreement on his size, listing him at either 6'0" or 6'1" and 205-215 pounds.
As you can probably guess, there isn't a whole lot out there yet on Johnson. He earned a positive mention from Scout's John Garcia Jr. after Prattville came up short in last season's state championship game:
One of the few defensive standouts for the Lions, this underclassmen has versatility on his side. He lines up in the middle or on the edge at linebacker and makes plays against both the pass and the run. Though undersized at 6-foot, 185 pounds, he simply makes plays. A tackle for loss was among his four recorded stops.
That's all I could find on him—that article wasn't even linked to Johnson's Scout profile, since one didn't exist last night—other than Sam Webb's tweet about his camp performance on Friday:
2016 Prattville (Ala.) LB Dytarious Johnson may have been the best of the LB bunch today. Received a lot of love from the #Michigan staff
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) June 5, 2015
We do have Johnson's junior highlights, which I'm going to post up here:
Magnus posted an evaluation today based on that film, and I had much the same reaction after seeing it myself:
For being a linebacker, he's a very smooth runner who moves like a strong safety. The first highlight in his film below is of him playing man coverage on a slot receiver, staying right on his hip on a wheel route, and tracking the ball down in the air; he tips it to himself and races about 75 yards to the endzone. He also likes to hit, and he takes good angles to the football. One thing I also like is that he seems to understand his role as an outside linebacker, and he does a very good job of maintaining leverage and fighting off blocks to keep outside contain.
The athleticism is there, but some basic fundamentals are lacking. His stance and footwork will probably need to be adjusted, but that will come with reps and coaching. He will also need to get stronger and add a little bit of weight.
The coaches seem to have noticed some of the same technical issues, and had already started working through them at Friday's camp, according to the Montgomery Advertiser:
Johnson said he learned "a lot" at the four-hour camp.
"I learned how to get in my stance and how to turn my hips," said Johnson, who plays linebacker. "The footwork."
Magnus added that Johnson's highlights could easily be confused for those of a four-star prospect, and I'm inclined to agree; he looks strong against both the run and pass, closes quickly on the football, and hits hard. This is a very lofty comparison, but he reminds me a little of Ohio State strongside linebacker Darron Lee, a three-star safety with a similar build out of high school. Lee was one of OSU's most valuable players last season because he could disrupt opponent running and passing games while lining up in the box or over the slot. Johnson has the potential to fill a similar role.
Johnson also holds offers from Alabama State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, Memphis, South Alabama, and Troy. Add him to the ever-increasing group of test cases for Harbaugh's eye for talent and his ability to identify it early.
Mostly covered above; Prattville has emerged as an unlikely Michigan pipeline, and given the program's recent success, that could get the Wolverines in on future talented prospects, as well.
Per MaxPreps, Johnson was second on Prattville with 82 total tackles (57 solo) as a junior. He also tallied four passes defensed and an interception he returned 71 yards for a touchdown (first clip in his highlights—it's well worth a watch).
FAKE 40 TIME
Johnson's Hudl page lists a 4.50, which gets five FAKEs out of five. (No obvious source, non-specific time, is a linebacker.) His page also lists a 4.30 shuttle time, 32.5" vertical, 315-pound bench press, and 405-pound squat.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Johnson seems like he could be anything from a Lee-style hybrid space player to a more traditional weakside linebacker, depending on his physical development and how the roster shakes out in front of him. The linebacker two-deep will be wide open after Joe Bolden, Desmond Morgan, and James Ross all graduate following this season, though I'd still expect Johnson to take a redshirt year. After a redshirt year—which will also see Ben Gedeon and Allen Gant exhaust their eligibility—he should be in position to compete for a spot on the depth chart.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Oh, heck, copy-and-paste again:
It's still far too early to take a stab at the final numbers for this class; it's clear the coaches are eyeing a class in the neighborhood of 20-25 prospects, which would require a decent but not unreasonable amount of attrition before Signing Day. Wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive tackle, defensive end, outside linebacker, and—depending on where Enis and
maybeEvans end up—defensive back remain areas of need.
Michigan is in good position with several highly ranked linebacker prospects; expect them to continue pursuing guys who can fit at that hybrid BUCK spot, such as five-star Caleb Kelly.
The Wolverines are now up to ten total commitments, and pending the inevitable attrition they only have room for four more right now. While there is understandable concern about oversigning, a couple long-rumored roster moves that have yet to become official are still well within the realm of possibility. Right now the numbers look tight and recruiting shows no signs of slowing down; my guess is the coaches know a few things we don't about the roster outlook.