Thursday, June 7, 2012

2012 Season Countdown: #84 Drake Johnson

Drake Johnson
Name: Drake Johnson
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 206 lbs.
High school: Ann Arbor (MI) Pioneer
Position: Running back
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: Johnson was in high school.

Final TTB Rating: 65

Johnson put up some mind boggling numbers in high school, not just as a running back but as a hurdler, too.  Regardless of what happens at Michigan, he will long be remembered in track and football circles for his high school exploits.

Those accomplishments don't necessarily translate to college, though.  Johnson racked up big numbers running the ball, but the consensus seems to be that he doesn't have much wiggle and will struggle to find creases in Michigan Stadium.  Johnson has good speed and a big frame, and he plans to be 220-225 lbs. by the time he becomes an upperclassman.  Hopefully he can parlay those qualities into being a good college running back.  With the backfield pretty set, Johnson's best chance to get on the field this fall would appear to be as a kick returner; his speed and power could be a nice combination.  However, with another player (Dennis Norfleet) having been brought in for the express purpose of returning punts and kickoffs, Johnson might find his pathway to playing time blocked there, too.


  1. I keep seeing Drake as a WR. Supposedly he has decent hands and he has the size and speed to play outside.

    Do you think there's any chance that's where he ends up if he's buried on the RB depth chart?

    1. Yeah, I think there's a chance, but a small one. He's expecting to be 225 lbs. within a couple years. There aren't too many 6'1", 225 lb. receivers around, even though we just graduated one in Junior Hemingway. He fits the mold of what the coaches want at running back, so I think he'll be given every opportunity to win the RB job (or at least a backup role).

  2. Does anyone think he could be a designated (punt return) gunner? Seems like a good place for raw speed ... in theory, he'd have only one speed bump at the line of scrimmage.

    1. Those gunners are typically pretty shifty, I think. He would be a load for some corner or wide receiver to handle, but he might not be the best guy to make tackles in space.

  3. FWIW here is my estimated top 100 (in order of damage to the team if injured this year):

    D. Robinson, Lewan, Schofield, Toussaint, Barnum, Black, Omameh, Countess, T. Gordon, Kovacs, Roh, Gallon, Ryan, Beyer, Campbell, D. Morgan, Floyd, F. Clark, Gardner, Mealer, C. Gordon, Demens, Roundtree, Terrence Talbott, Kalis, Avery, Hopkins, Rawls, J. Robinson, Burzynski, J. Jackson, Heitzman, Williams, Dileo, Pipkins, V. Smith, Bellomy, Hawthorne, M. Robinson, Poole, R. Taylor, J. Wilson, Ash, Bolden, J. Miller, Moore, M. Jones, Carter, Washington, Bryant, Hollowell, Gibbons, Brink, Hayes, Furman, Wile, Simmons, Hagerup, Kerridge, Funchess, Glanda, Chesson, Norfleet, Kwiatkowski, Ojemudia, Darboh, Magnuson, James Ross, Broekhuizen, Braden, Godin, Ringer, Wormley, R. Miller, Richardson, Strobel, Wilkins, Cavanaugh, Paskorz, D. Johnson, Gant, Reynolds, Eddins, Jenkins-Stone, Graman, Henry, Gyarmati, Houma, Bars, J. Clark, Gunderson, Allen, G. Glasgow, Sayed, Mateus, Backey, Rasheed, Maye, Kennedy, Zeller

    More depth than in past, but still not many stars.

    1. Adam Jacobi named his top guy for each Big 10 team and came up with Lewan for Michigan. Adam Jacobi has a name.

      I tend to agree with OL depth being what it is and Gardner being a (presumably) decent replacement for Robinson. Unlike in years past, there's only a handful of guys on this years team that can't be replaced real easily. That's mostly a good thing (depth), but, like you said, it's also a sign that we don't have that many impact players.

  4. Obviously you want both, but if choosing between straight-ahead speed and 'shiftiness' I still can't figure out which is more important for kick-off returns.

    The kick return job is pretty wide open, but I'd be pretty surprised if Johnson won it. Long-term I think his size and speed make him a decent prospect (a poor man's Anthony Thomas), but I think he's very likely to red-shirt this year.

    1. Johnson isn't much like A-train...a little less bulldozing and much faster (not that Thomas was slow). I think Johnson will redshirt as well, but it's always nice to have a guy that size with rocket speed.

      Kick and punt returns are very different in my mind...shiftiness is more important for punts, straight-ahead speed (one-cut-and-go stuff) is more important for kicks.

    2. Agreed, BlastBeat. A shifty guy can be a good kick returner, but he has to have good straight-ahead speed, too. I think Norfleet can do both KR and PR. Johnson probably can't return punts, but might be able to do the kick return thing.

    3. Thomas was big, but not a bulldozer - he was fast. Thomas was a track star and a top national recruit at RB. He had average speed for an NFL back, which makes him fast by college football standards. He was big and he ran fast going in a straight line, but he mostly went down after the 1st hit. He ran over people that were smaller than him sometimes, but not often. His balance was terrible and he went down easy, but his momentum usually carried him forward for an extra yard or two. He was reliable. He made the most of what the OL gave him, because he hit the hole quickly, but he didn't get a lot more than what his blocks and his speed provided. Johnson sounds like a similar type of player - good size and speed, but isn't going to break a bunch of tackles and doesn't have the wiggle to make people miss.

      They're both the opposite of Mike Hart.

      Johnson may be a smidge faster and not have the same football ability (given that he is a 2-star recruit), but I see a pretty similar style of player - let a dominant OL open big holes for you and run through them as fast as you can. Make sure you don't fumble and fall forward after you're being hit. Get up and repeat.


      I agree that punt return and kick off return are very different. Punt returns require a reliable player with good hands and decision-making above all else. I was talking about kick (-off) returns. For that, straight-ahead speed is very important, but you have to be able to make quick moves too. The fastest guy on the team often isn't used on kick returns, because you need both. We'll see how much wiggle Johnson does or doesn't have in time, but it sounds like Norfleet is the guy the coaches see fitting in here immediately.

  5. If our offensive line recruits are as advertised, there could be some real nice holes for a big fast kid who isn't wasting time wiggling or even cutting, but rather hitting the hole hard and going, maybe bending a little.

    Between Drake, Smith, Houma and Rawls we might be able to get some Safeties to start thinking about quitting.