I have committed to The University of Michigan thanks to everyone who believed in me and gave me the opportunity!! pic.twitter.com/BNv5rljqR0
— Ron Johnson Jr (@RonJohn24) June 25, 2015
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.
|3*, #48 DE||
4*, #6 WDE,
4*, 83, #16 DE,
4*, 92, #17 WDE,
4*, #14 WDE,
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:
EvaluationJohnson 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
- Hand Quickness
Areas to Improve
- Change of Direction
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.
FAKE 40 TIME
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.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
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.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
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.