There haven't been too many defensive players we've been more impressed with this spring than Rahyme Johnson.
A year ago, we had Johnson rated as an athlete and felt he was equally as good as a tight end. After watching him multiple times on the 7v7 circuit as well as on film, we think his skill set projects very well as an outside 'backer in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.
At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Johnson has a long, athletic frame, is a physical player and has made a lot of strides in his fluidity, ability to play in space and cover.
He's running track as well and has clocked a 10.8-100m, which is moving for an athlete his size. When you look at his frame and growth potential, his raw athleticism and the edge he plays with, Johnson is a player that we think has tremendous upside at the next level.
On the recruiting front, Johnson committed to UCLA last July but wants to take his visits, unofficial and official. He checked out Nebraska this past weekend and said he was wowed by the atmosphere.
"It was a great environment, I've never seen anything like that before," Johnson said. "Growing up out here in California, it was just so different seeing how crazy and passionate the fans were. I must have signed 200 autographs and taken pictures with like 50 babies, it was like were celebrities out there.
"I was not expecting that at all. I had heard how great the fans were but I didn't think it would be like that. During the game, me and Deommodore Lenoir went to the snack bar and when we came back, there was a line of people wanting to talk to us and get our autograph. Everyone was so welcoming and it was like a big family, it was a great experience for sure."
Johnson said there was more to the trip than just a great fan base.
"We toured the campus and the facilities and the best thing was probably the academic center," Johnson said. "The weight room was great and I really enjoyed talking with all the coaches too.
"Coach Riley, Coach Bray and Coach Banker were great with me and told me I would be a perfect fit in their defense. A lot of the time though, it was just talking to them, not about football but getting to know each other better. Coach Banker was actually at my school today and they said they're going to be recruiting me for the long haul and said I would be a great asset to the program."
Johnson said despite the great visit, his commitment to UCLA remains strong.
"I'm still very solid with UCLA," Johnson said. "Coach White came to see me on Tuesday and we have a great relationship. He wanted to pick up my transcripts and make sure I was doing good academically. He's a good coach and a very good teacher. I watch him at practice coaching the linebackers and you can tell he knows what he's doing.
"UCLA encouraged me to take my visits, they just want to get that last one from me. I want to travel and see the world and enjoy this process, we only get to go through this once. Right now, I'm open to all schools and still listening to everyone but I have a strong comfort level with UCLA and I like them a lot."
"I want to take an official visit to Cal for sure as well," Johnson said. "They just offered a few weeks ago and I love their academics and what a degree from there means. I also think Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame could all be close to offering as well and if they do, I plan to visit there as well.
"I just talked to Coach Kelley at Notre Dame and he said they're going to be coming out to see me soon. San Diego State is another school I like and want to visit because Kyahva Tezino is there and he likes it a lot. So that's where things are at, I'm committed, I like UCLA a lot but still want to go through the process and let it play out."