Matt Cashore / Irish Illustrated

D.J. Johnson displays drive at Invasion

D.J. Johnson could have sat out Irish Invasion on Saturday night. Instead, the Indianapolis cornerback worked his sprained left ankle to exhaustion.

D.J. Johnson only got about three 1-on-1 reps on Saturday night during Irish Invasion. That's when his left ankle gave out, the three-week old injury that he carried into the event knocking him out for good.

On paper, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound athlete from North Central in Indianapolis didn't need to work out at all during Notre Dame's summer showcase. The Irish offered the four-star prospect during spring, joining a regional list of Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Syracuse and Purdue.

Johnson worked out anyway.

Now he faces another two weeks of recovery before that left ankle heals for good.

"I'm not the type of person that's going to go out there and sit out," Johnson said. "I like competing. I want to get out there, do what I could. It was cool at the beginning, but once I started making breaks (the ankle) started giving me trouble and it started getting worse."

Johnson stayed at Notre Dame until Sunday, heading home following the recruiting weekend events that also hit on academics. He spent time with cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght, defensive coordinator Mike Elko and defensive line coach Mike Elston. The idea of ending his recruitment popped up too, but Johnson said he'd likely take some officials during the season before ending his process.

Regardless, Notre Dame remains in solid shape. Johnson even noted he'll likely be at the Georgia game in September. And he could get used to being an offered prospect after this weekend.

"It was a different experience for sure," Johnson said. "Just the way they treated me, I was definitely a priority, it was a great visit. I really enjoyed my time up there.

"The coaches just told me that this is a place that I can come in and play. And they didn't take any corners in the last class. Being from Indiana, not too far from home, I could definitely come in and be an impact player."

Johnson might be part of a strong cycle for Notre Dame in Indiana as well.

Four-star running back Markese Stepp attended Irish Invasion and worked out. So did four-star linebacker Cam McGrone. Johnson said he's close with Stepp and at least knows o McGrone from high school football around Indianapolis.

Before Johnson left South Bend, he exchanged contact info with some of Notre Dame's other commits, with Stepp one of four at Irish Invasion alongside defensive linemen Jayson and Justin Ademilola, plus linebacker Matt Bauer.

"It was tempting (to commit) going up there, seeing everything," Johnson said. "They laid out everything for me to see. But I don't think I'm going to commit soon."

Considering Notre Dame wants three cornerbacks in this class and doesn't have one in the commitment column, Johnson doesn't need to rush. He admitted if the Irish were already sitting on two cornerback commitments that it might change his timeline.

Regardless, the Irish scored well with the in-state athlete, thanks in part to Lyght and Elko.

"I liked both of them, they definitely have a lot of experience," Johnson said. "I know talking to coach Lyght, he's played so long in the NFL, that can help me. Coach Elko has been a defensive coordinator for a few schools, has coached top defenses, knows what he's doing. Both those guys would help me get where I need to be."


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