Ankeny, Iowa – Now that the 2018 college football signing day is officially in the past our team at Hawkeye Heaven is going to put together a series of articles where we highlight each of the 22 commitments Iowa received. We’ll share each recruit’s highlights, and do our best to mention what jumps out to us about each player on tape. Next up is defensive back recruit DJ Johnson.
DJ Johnson is a defensive back recruit from Indianapolis, Indiana. Johnson played football for North Central High School in Indianapolis. Rivals has Johnson listed as a 3 star CB. He chose to commit to play football for the Hawkeyes after accumulating some impressive offers from schools like LSU, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Purdue, and Cincinnati.
— DJ JOHNSON (@DjJohnson1127) August 22, 2017
Johnson is listed on the official Hawkeye Sports website at 6’0 170 lbs. With his size and ability he almost certainly projects as a future CB for the Hawkeyes.
DJ Johnson has a long highlight reel filled with some incredible plays, but you know which play I guarantee you the Hawkeye coaches liked the most? The punt coverage play at about the 50 second mark of the video. Watch it. This play was made because of pure hustle and “want to”. Johnson bolted down the field to cover the punt. He was 5 yards in front of his closest teammate. He didn’t get touched by a single blocker on the opposing team, and he beat the return man to the football. That is not something you see often, and I promise that play caught the attention of the Hawkeye coaching staff.
Besides that play, the biggest takeaway from watching his film is his coverage skills. The young man is a ballhawk. He converts interceptions when he has the chance which is huge at the next level of football. Turnovers can be the difference between a win and a loss. Being able to convert an interception instead of just a pass break up is what separates the great cornerbacks from the good ones.
At 6’0 170 lbs Johnson is, and likely will be, a smaller cornerback. He may struggle or be out-matched on jump balls against some of the bigger receivers he’ll face while at Iowa, but he won’t back down from anyone. There are several plays in his highlight reel where you can see him going toe to toe with bigger receivers in press coverage. He’s a feisty little cornerback who plays with an attitude.
The easiest comparison to make here is Desmond King. Two minutes into his highlight reel I was already thinking that. He may be an undersized cornerback, but he makes up for it with his effort and natural ability to know where the ball is going to be. He plays with the same type of swagger that Desmond King does. You have to love that in a cornerback because at this level you’re going to get beat on occasion, but you have to be able to bounce back from it and make the next play.
This is easy. I think DJ Johnson is going to be a multi-year starter for the Hawkeyes at the cornerback position. Iowa is loaded with talent in the defensive backfield so it may take a year or two before Johnson is ready to crack the depth chart at corner, but when he does there will be no looking back. He’ll get his first snaps as a gunner on special teams, and eventually he’ll work his way into the starting lineup at corner. This young man is a future star at Iowa. I’m comfortable making that prediction.