Kylan Johnson came to Florida a couple of years ago after playing quarterback and safety in high school in Texas. Recruited to play safety, Johnson kept growing and was moved to linebacker last spring. With injuries on the field, Johnson and his athleticism found its way to the field early and often in 2016. He played well at times and other times he struggled, but he gained a ton of experience.
This season, he will be counted on a lot and again with his athleticism, he will be asked to do a lot of things.
“Spring’s been going really good… better than I thought,” Johnson said. I’m kinda playing all three positions. Instead of just playing Will (linebacker) or playing Sam, I’m playing all three.”
Johnson does say he likes playing the two outside acker positions a little better.
“Sam and Will, they’re kind of the same position,” he said of his favorites. “Either one, it doesn’t matter to me.”
He believes things are coming long quite well in terms of really becoming a good player on defense.
“Learning Coach Shannon’s defense… he put in a lot of plays for us to learn and learning all three spots, so I’m just in the learning process,” he said about getting better.
As for the Nickel position, he says that he got pretty comfortable with that relatively quickly.
“I came in playing DB, so I know how to cover,” he said with the usual smile. “I can get out there and play one-on-one with the receiver. So it’s fun to me.”
One thing that was tough was going against the talent at receiver, he often gets matched up with senior slot guy Brandon Powell and the little guy can be a bit to handle for someone getting as big as Johnson is.
“He’s on the one’s offense and one’s and one’s go against each other all the time,” Johnson said of Powell. “I’m just matched up with him all the time. He’s making me better though.”
“It was rough in the beginning, but I got used to it.”
He says going against Powell is making him better player at the position.
“Just because of his size and his quickness,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to guard anybody as fast and as quick as he is at that size.
Jim McElwain has expressed his eagerness to find utility guys that can play multiple positions. Offenses can speed things up and not allow defenses enough time to properly change personnel on the field. Guys like Kylan Johnson who can play multiple positions become invaluable in that the defense can call different personnel even with him staying on the field.
Look for Johnson to make big strides this fall.