|Drake Johnson (#29) - image via Saturday Edge|
Weight: 212 lbs.
High school: Ann Arbor (MI) Pioneer
Position: Running back
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #20
Last year: I ranked Johnson #63 and said he would be a backup running back and special teams player. He had 2 carries for 9 yards before tearing his ACL in the first game.
Johnson earned a little bit of buzz starting during the lead-up to the bowl game against South Carolina during his true freshman year. Brady Hoke said that he wished guys who redshirted during the regular season could play in the bowl game, and he mentioned Johnson by name. Despite having players with bigger recruiting profiles, Johnson was the #2 running back to enter the season and carried the ball 2 times for 9 yards against Central Michigan. Unfortunately for him, he blew out his ACL on kick coverage and missed the rest of the year.
Johnson was still limited this spring, but Hoke has indicated that he will be 100% by the beginning of the season. Last year's starter, Fitzgerald Toussaint, has graduated, but it seems that the two front-runners for the starting gig this year are sophomores DeVeon Smith and Derrick Green. Redshirt junior Justice Hayes appears to be the third-down back, so it's unclear where Johnson can figure into the mix. His situation could be further compromised if USC transfer Ty Isaac gets a waiver to play this year (Isaac was not in the equation when I put together the list initially). Assuming Isaac is forced to redshirt, Johnson should earn a few carries because Hoke appears to like him. However, he should not factor heavily into the rotation, and his best chance to play might be on special teams, where his speed and sturdiness can be an asset.
Prediction: Backup running back, special teams player