Hello: Ron Johnson

Submitted by Ace on June 25th, 2015 at 4:52 PM

The first of what could be multiple New Jersey commits in the 2016 class went down this afternoon when four-star Camden DE Ron Johnson announced his commitment to Michigan on Twitter. Johnson is currently on campus along with fellow 2016 prospects Ahmir Mitchell and Naseir Upshur, both of whom held Michigan in high regard heading into the visit, and surely in even higher regard now that they've hit the streets of Ann Arbor with Jim Harbaugh.

Johnson is the 20th commit in the 2016 class, the 14th this month alone, and the second defensive end, joining Rashad Weaver.


Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, #48 DE 4*, #6 WDE,
#109 Ovr
4*, 83, #16 DE,
#103 Ovr
4*, 92, #17 WDE,
#231 Ovr
4*, #14 WDE,
#215 Ovr

Scout is the major outlier here, despite giving him a pretty solid evaluation. Otherwise, Johnson easily ranks as a four-star.

Johnson is listed at either 6'3" or 6'4" and somewhere between 220 and 240 pounds. He's got the frame to add a significant amount of bulk, which is good, since his game suggests he'll fit best as a strongside end.


For being the low outlier in the rankings, Scout sounds quite optimistic about Johnson's potential in their free evaluation:


Johnson has an excellent motor and also plenty of athleticism. He gets up the field in a hurry, but also uses technique, including a nice swim move. He stays low at the snap and can dip his shoulder to get around the edge, and also can chase a play down from behind. He needs to work a bit on his change of direction, which is good for a kid his size. His speed off the edge is why colleges like him a lot. -- Brian Dohn


  • Athleticism
  • Hand Quickness
  • Speed

Areas to Improve

  • Change of Direction
  • Strength

ESPN's scouting report features a lot of talk about wanting to see Johnson be more consistent in various aspects of his game, but given their conclusion and his lofty ranking they're clearly high on his potential ($):

Johnson is a prospect that brings some excellent physical tools. Can rely on size and strength some and needs to be more consistent with technique, but defender that can be a well-rounded and at times punishing presence in the trenches.

While ESPN praises his "raw strength," it sounds like Johnson needs to get stronger and/or refine his technique so that becomes a more consistent asset for him on the field. Rivals' Adam Friedman listed him at #7 among defenders at the RCS New Jersey camp in April, praising his edge rushing while noting he has work to do on the interior ($):

Johnson is a very skilled edge rusher with good balance and great length. He is very explosive off the line of scrimmage and does a good job of lining up the offensive lineman and faking one way before going the other. Johnson is still working on his overall strength and that will really help him on his inside rushes.

Rivals moved Johnson into their top 100 in the spring, as he showed quite literal growth from last year ($):

Johnson has gotten a couple of inches taller since the beginning of last season and it will surely help his game. His strength at the point of attack is undeniable and he's able to shed blockers and make the play. As a pass rusher, he can go to the inside, outside or bull rush. As his repertoire expands, the Johnson could end up moving up the rankings.

When Johnson got to the Rivals Five-Star Challenge earlier this month, however, he didn't impress as much as Rivals expected, getting a "Bear Market" mention from Mike Farrell in the aftermath:

DE Ron Johnson is ranked a bit too high right outside the Rivals100 and was small in comparison to the rest of the group without flashing the needed speed.

The raised level of competition may have affected Johnson, who apparently doesn't play against a ton of top-end talent at Camden. 247's Rutgers outlet noted that when naming Johnson their #4 player in the state this spring ($):

At 6'4" and 240 pounds, Johnson is an explosive, athletic defensive end with great strength and a phenomenal motor. He uses his hands very well and has a great understanding of the game. One of his biggest strengths is his versatility, as he can line up anywhere along the [defensive] line and can use his speed and an explosive first step to create an instant advantage over the offensive linemen. Johnson does not face the greatest competition but he still projects as a player who can make an impact, at least from a pass rushing standpoint, as a true freshman.

Johnson's most recent camp appearance came at South Carolina, where he stood out to 247 national analyst JC Shurburtt ($):

Johnson was perhaps the quickest defensive lineman in the defensive line group during Saturday's Showcase. He is explosive and has a wide variety of pass rushing moves to get past blockers. Johnson impressed in the quickness drills and looks the part. Combine that with what you see on film and it's easy to see why he has a high offer count.

Johnson has a lot to work with from a pass-rushing standpoint, and his overall game should improve as he adds more strength and, eventually, gets pointed coaching at the next level. He might not possess the lateral mobility to play the hybrid BUCK position in DJ Durkin's defense, but he's plenty athletic for a guy who will have his hand in the dirt.


Johnson holds offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Boston College, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Ole Miss, Mizzou, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among a handful of others.


Johnson is the first Power 5 commit to come out of Camden since three-star WR Matt Marshall signed with Arkansas in 2009. They're more talented of late, however, as Johnson is joined on the team by four-star WR Brad Hawkins—who may announce later this month and could very well join Johnson in the class—and four-star 2017 C Cesar Ruiz, who's also on campus this week.


According to 247, Johnson recorded 84 tackles and ten sacks in his junior season.


Scout lists a verified 40 time of 4.60, but I don't see that figure anywhere else, including on ESPN's profile that contains other testing results but omits a 40 time. I'll give it three FAKEs out of five, but even if he's a little slower than listed, he's fast for a defensive lineman.


Junior highlights:

Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.


Johnson has a chance to see the field pretty early in his career, provided he develops enough physically by the time he gets to campus. Chris Wormley, Henry Poggi, and Shelton Johnson should be his primary competition at strongside end when arrives in 2016, and I wouldn't rule out his ability to crack that depth chart as a true freshman. Even if he redshirts, he should be in line for playing time as soon as his second year on campus.


Michigan is up to 20 commits for the 2016 class, including Benjamin St-Juste (a potential 2017 enrollee). Johnson fills a significant need at defensive end. Michigan can now focus on adding prospects at wide receiver, tight end, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, and cornerback, as well as likely one more offensive lineman.

Johnson's commitment could help sway the New Jersey contingent of Hawkins and Mitchell, as well as PA TE Naseir Upshur, to join the class, as well as providing a strong early impression of Michigan for Ruiz. With five-star Paramus Catholic DT Rashan Gary also very much in the mix, it's doubtful Michigan is done pulling in prospects from the region in this class.



June 25th, 2015 at 5:06 PM ^

It is pretty interesting.  We have 20 commits, assuming we go to 25 (rather than finding a way to get to the possible 28) we have 5 spaces left:

1) Have to save one for Gary.

2) Another OL-EJ Price or Terrance Davis

3) hopefully Naseir Upshur (probably need another TE)

4) a WR- Hawkins or Ahmir Mitchell(?)

5) Devin Bush(?)


Insteresting with so few spaces left at the moment.  


Edit: And I forgot about Quinn Nordin who seems destined for this class.  

Space Coyote

June 25th, 2015 at 5:31 PM ^

There are still about 7-8 months until signing day, a few commits won't stick, so even with the idea of 25, I think we'll see about 8 more commits. But of the 14 left (and there will likely be 1-2 we don't see coming), I think Michigan would be interested in (not that they will get or would get if they had room, mind you):

  1. Ahmir Mitchell (WR/CB)
  2. Brad Hawkins (WR)
  3. Naseir Upshur (TE)
  4. Terrance Davis (OG, maybe move Onwenu to NT)
  5. Daniel Joseph (if they think he can be a 3-tech/5-tech)
  6. Rashan Gary (DT)
  7. Dontavious Jackson (ILB)
  8. Caleb Kelly (Buck)
  9. Xavier Kelly (Buck)
  10. Devin Bush Jr (LB)
  11. Jonathan Jones (LB/Buck)
  12. Tony Butler (CB, may be out of the picture)
  13. Jared Mayden (same as Butler)
  14. Quinn Nordin (K, may want to talk to coaches before deciding to see if he can still commit?)

There is some overlap there, but I think the coaches would be alright with a LB and a Buck in the fold. Think they want another TE and at least another WR, but would accept 2 as of now. They have players that can play different positions, so that gives them flexibility with how they bring on commits (Onwenu can play multiple spots, Enis and Evans can play multiple spots, Reese can slide to FB, etc.)


June 25th, 2015 at 6:42 PM ^

Definitely need WRs and 1 moar TE.

Butler apparently wants a OSU offer and would apparently flip from Pitt to OSU if he did get one.  Seems like a kid if Harbaugh was going to get, Urban would immediately offer just out of spite.

Agree some guys we have now wont be here next Feb.  Even a guy like Evans has said a ND offer is his dream and he seems like he'd flip, etc.

Some of these low rated guys we have now could be pushed out too if higher ones come in later.


June 25th, 2015 at 6:44 PM ^

Nordin is a bit of a luxury as we have a 2015 kicker.  That said MSU was after him big time and the fact they took a kicker this week makes me think he is going blue too.   Could be this class goes to 28.  Who knows.

Space Coyote

June 25th, 2015 at 5:05 PM ^

Really not much that separates the two. Interestingly, I think Kareem is a little further along as an interior player (my thought is either would end up as a 5-tech at Michigan) but was recruited as a Buck. I also liked Kareem's first step a bit more. But I think Johnson is a little bit longer, has a little more speed in his subsequent steps, and is a little more violent when finishing plays.

Does some things that look great on high school highlight tapes that won't work in college (standing straight up and disengaging with a spin), but shows the athleticism you look for from a 5-tech and the ability to hold down the point of attack. The difference between him and Kareem is negligible in my opinion, the only advantage of Kareem is that he's a Michigan guy; for the most part it'll come down to development and attitude at the next level for how they turn out. They're at similar places both technically, athletically, and in terms of size.

As far as edge rusher, I don't think either fit the bill too much, I think both would end up playing the 5-tech (where they should be good off the edge when the TE releases into a route, but neither, IMO, are Buck LBs or pure edge rushers). Johnson looks a little longer and a little leaner right now, so that may help him as far as getting up to speed after the first step, but I liked Kareem's first step (particularly inside step) quite a bit. I think both can benefit from more coaching to help them improve on the edge (Johnson needs to come out lower and harder, he stands up immediately, that's slowing down his first step); Kareem I think just needs to focus on getting the next step in the ground and maybe reshape his body a bit. Very similar players though.