Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dytarious Johnson, Wolverine

I can't find a picture of Dytarious Johnson, so here's a picture of a shirtless Jim Harbaugh instead.
Prattville (AL) Prattville linebacker Dytarious Johnson committed to Michigan on Saturday. He chose the Wolverines over offers from Alabama State, Memphis, South Alabama, Troy, and others.

Johnson is 6'1" and 215 lbs. He claims a 4.5 forty, a 32.5" vertical, a 315 lb. bench press, and a 405 lb. squat. As a junior in 2014, he had 82 total tackles.

ESPN: Unranked
Rivals: 2-star OLB
Scout: Unranked
247 Sports: Unranked

Johnson had been picking up offers from smaller schools for a while. He visited Michigan in April with teammate and fellow Michigan commit Kingston Davis, and the coaching staff told him they would evaluate him at the Prattville satellite camp. The camp took place on Friday, Michigan extended an offer on Saturday, and Johnson committed. Both players played with Keith Washington in high school, a player who was their team's quarterback and a part-time cornerback before signing with the Wolverines in February.

I had been aware of Johnson's existence since he visited Michigan, but without much of a recruiting profile, I did not expect Michigan to pull the trigger on an offer, at least not this early. Now watching his film, it's clear to see what the coaches like in him. For being a linebacker, he's a very smooth runner who moves like a strong safety. The first highlight in his film below is of him playing man coverage on a slot receiver, staying right on his hip on a wheel route, and tracking the ball down in the air; he tips it to himself and races about 75 yards to the endzone. He also likes to hit, and he takes good angles to the football. One thing I also like is that he seems to understand his role as an outside linebacker, and he does a very good job of maintaining leverage and fighting off blocks to keep outside contain.

The athleticism is there, but some basic fundamentals are lacking. His stance and footwork will probably need to be adjusted, but that will come with reps and coaching. He will also need to get stronger and add a little bit of weight.

Overall, if you told me this was a 4-star recruit, I would not have batted an eyelash. That doesn't mean he's guaranteed to be a star, but college teams like speed and he has it. College teams like physical players, and he's physical. He can play and tackle in space, and he can be an asset in pass coverage. There's not much to dislike. As an outside linebacker, he should be able to do those things, and if he ends up at inside linebacker, he's a guy who should be able to go sideline to sideline.

Michigan now has ten players in the 2016 class, and Johnson is either the second or third linebacker, depending on whether David Reese plays defense or fullback. With four senior linebackers graduating and other contributors in their upperclassman years, Michigan is going heavy on linebackers this year and might take five. This is the fourth player Michigan has picked up since last Tuesday, joining a string of commitments that includes Michigan offensive guard Michael Onwenu, Indiana running back Kiante Enis, and Indiana slot receiver Chris Evans.

TTB Rating: 77 (ratings explanation)


  1. Michigan has now recruited more speed in 5 months of Harbaugh than it did in 4 years of Hoke.

  2. It seems the LBs that this staff is after are on the shorter side compared to the LBs Hoke recruited. Outside of Ross, they tended to be 6'3" 230 lb guys who looked like traditional LBs.

    Does it seem the new coaches favor speed and athleticism at the position over size and strength? And if so, is it because of the spread offense or Durkin's scheme?

    1. Yes, it does seem that way. Speed kills. I don't think Hoke ever realized that, so we're seeing a little different approach with Harbaugh. I think the combination of spread offenses and Durkin's defense is seeing us recruit a little more speed. You can pack a few pounds on a guy, or you can teach him the right technique, and speed can overcome a lack of 1" or 10 lbs. Obviously, you want to have a little bit of size in the trenches, but once you get to the second or third level of the defense, you need as much speed as you can get.

    2. Thanks, that's what it seemed like but I hadn't seen it discussed much yet. Given the lack of speed at LB on the current roster, especially once these seniors graduate, do you think there's any chance of moving Dymonte Thomas back down to LB? He'd obviously need to bulk up but he'd add some much needed athleticism to the position and has experience there from HS. Could see a resurgence similar to Stevie Brown.

    3. It is tough to be tall AND fast - which is why guys like Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss are freaks of nature. Your typical elite speed WR is going to be 6'0 6'1.

      The 49ers had awesome speed in their LB core - they were not the biggest guys. Hoke was stuck defending 1998 offenses with his mindset.

    4. It's not just the new coaches, it's almost all coaches. Hoke and company were obsessed with size. They'd take it at the expense of speed. That's why you saw good talent like Furman (and other potential LBs like Marvin Robinson and Dymonte Thomas) go to waste, as well as solid RB prospects like Norfleet and Hayes. I was often critical of their size obsession and will continue to view it as a sign of their obsolete/antiquated mentality to football.

      This staff is not that. If you notice - the RBs, WRs, LBs, and Safeties are generally shorter now. The QBs, CBs, and DEs are still pretty tall, but there are viable reasons for that given the style of play they want to run.

      This staff wants to win with speed and power - being tall doesn't help you with either.

  3. Amen thunder you are right on

  4. Love it!! Go blue! Thanks again this awesome blog!

  5. Nice! Glad to read that you are optimistic with this kid. I have no problems with approach of taking multidimensional athletes. I do hope they leave room for some high-rated prospects to join on later in the class, especially along the OL/DL and at DB, but this class has plenty of room between now and signing day.

  6. I like his over all ball presence and predict he will see early playing time mainly because he seems to be a lock down tackler. I worry he wont get a red shirt but be asked to play special teams immediately.

  7. Dude likes to hit. I love it!