With two and a half months to go before the 2019 season, Rutgers football has added another player to the mix. Former 4-star defensive end prospect Ron Johnson Jr. has joined the program. The 2016 Michigan Wolverine signee graduated in three years therefore didn’t need a hardship waiver in order to play right away, regardless of destination. Johnson posted on Twitter he will attend RU:
As has been discussed throughout the last few weeks, Rutgers Head Coach Chris Ash continues to add talent to the roster through non-traditional routes, and this is a crucial get because defensive linemen depth are so hard to come by. Johnson only played during his true freshman season at Michigan, not participating in any games in either of the last two years. The Camden native was a college teammate with the Wolverines of current Rutgers linebacker Drew Singleton, who also returned home recently.
During his initial recruitment, Johnson was listed as the 8th best player in New Jersey per 247 composite and 22nd best weak-side defensive end prospect nationally. He held an impressive offer list of at least 25 schools on signing day, 23 of which were Power Five schools. Had he joined the 2016 Scarlet Knight recruiting class at the time, he would have been the highest rated prospect in the group.
This is an exciting get, with a lot of upside. As mentioned with the addition of Corey Bolds, teams need to add as many players as possible simply big enough to compete in the trenches on the line. Johnson is already three years into his college experience, so he is primed to play this season. Though Elorm Lumor and Mike Tverdov are presumed starters at defensive end, they really have a battle on their hands to keep those spots. Training camp with other players like Tijaun Mason, CJ Onyechi, and Nihym Anderson will be an excellent battle.
On film from high school at Camden, Johnson plays with tremendous quickness. He had elite burst at the snap and demonstrated equal if not greater ability to move laterally against ball carriers. He possesses elite size for the defensive end position and sets the edge without getting sucked out of position. He has enough strength not to be overpowered by offensive tackles or blown out of a hole by pulling linemen or backs. Michigan had arguably the nation’s best defense including one of in my estimation one of the four best defensive lines in the country last year, so Johnson’s lack of playing time may not reflect his ability at all.
Johnson wants to be at Rutgers when he would have also been eligible immediately elsewhere with less DE depth, likely in the Power Five. The draw of coming home and re-joining former Michigan teammate Singleton and fellow Camden natives Donald Williams and Stanley King may have factored in this decision. Hopefully Ron’s ability was simply never needed for the Wolverines and he’s an immediate upgrade at Rutgers.
Here are some highlights from Johnson’s high school career:
Welcome to the Banks, Ron!