Friday, June 26, 2015

2015 Season Countdown: #65 Shelton Johnson

Shelton Johnson
Name: Shelton Johnson
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: Delray Beach (FL) Atlantic
Position: Defensive end
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: Johnson was a senior in high school. He was a 247 Composite 3-star, the #20 strongside end, #365 overall, and #54 in Florida.
TTB Rating: 80

Johnson was a late pull out of Florida, a steal orchestrated by defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, who was the Florida defensive coordinator for the past couple seasons. Johnson was offered in the middle of January, immediately scheduled a visit, and then spurned the favorite (Florida State) to move up north. Michigan fans can't be anything less than intrigued after watching Johnson's high school film where he shows a good combination of size, speed, and aggression.

Michigan has some "defensive ends," but what the teams lacks is edge rushers. The Wolverines lost their top two sack artists from last season, and the top returners are senior Mario Ojemudia and junior Taco Charlton, who had 3.5 sacks each. The only other returning defensive linemen to get to the quarterback were tackles. Redshirt freshman Lawrence Marshall and senior Royce Jenkins-Stone are going to get their shots to come off the edge, but Johnson has a chance to step into the rotation as a freshman and help out with the pass rush. He will be a little light (he recently said he's up to 235 lbs.) but I think he can still be a situational player.

Prediction: Backup defensive end, situational pass rusher


  1. I hope he can become something serviceable this year. A good DL needs rotation.

  2. I'd be pretty surprised if he doesn't play a role - at least I'd expect him to get some chances early in the year to prove himself. Good chance of being used in pass-rush situations at least. Outside chance of starting over Ojemudia if he shows promise. The only way I don't think he'll play is if Jones or Marshall prove to be better.

    I'm excited about Johnson and expect him to help immediately.

  3. You'd be pretty surprised if Marshall proves to be better?

    Marshall was ranked arguably (almost definitely) higher coming out of high school, had a year in a college strength and conditioning program, and looked like an absolute hoss in the spring game.

    Marshall is getting significant minutes this year.

    1. @Anon - I assume your question is to me since Thunder hasn't ranked Marshall yet and presumably will later...

      I didn't actually say I thought Marshall would be better, nor was that my point - since presumably Michigan will play more than 2 or 3 DE -- but I do think Johnson is more likely to be an impact player in 2015 than Marshall.

      While I see your point regarding favoring a RS Freshman over a true freshman and (in general) I tend to agree, in this case I don't. The fact is that the shine is always off (at least a little bit) for a kid who doesn't play, unless he is blocked by great veterans ahead of him. That wasn't the case -- Michigan badly needed pass rushers last year (Beyer and Ojemudia were unexceptional) and Marshall didn't play. Sure, Marshall will get better, and I had and have high hopes for him eventually. However, the very best players typically play right away at least some, especially when the position is not an area of team strength.

      Johnson and Marshall are similar prospects -- their size and recruiting rankings and offers are so similar it's hardly worth differentiating -- both Marshall and Johnson are impressive prospects. Nobody has any clue who the better player will be 4 years from now. But we are talking about 2015.

      The difference, as I see it, is that Johnson has more potential due to the unknown. There is a non-zero chance Johnson is an instant impact terror. That's not true for Marshall, who has been on a college team already and that team elected not to play him. Johnson is still unknown, so he might be too good to keep off the field.

      You also have to consider that this is a kid that Durkin/Harbaugh recruited, not a Hoke holdover.

      Last but not least, there have been some rumblings of concerns related to Marshall translating his talent into on-field production.

      So yeah, there's a very good chance Marshall is a better player than Johnson but there's very little chance that Marshall is better than Ojemudia, Charlton, etc. Johnson might be.