Johnson Isn't Going Anywhere

It's difficult to single out one of Notre Dame's 19 commitments as "the biggest" commitment of the 2008 recruiting class, but defensive linemen Ethan Johnson of Lincoln High School (Portland, Ore.) would probably get nominated by more than a few Notre Dame fans. Johnson will join several other top prospects to make this year's defensive line haul one of the best in recent memory.

In a couple days Irish fans will faithfully watch the 2007 season opener. A lot of questions will be answered that day, as a young Notre Dame team will take on a tough Georgia Tech squad. Ethan Johnson hasn't taken the time to dissect the matchup, but he'll be behind his future teammates. .

"I'll be watching that game, definitely," Johnson responded when asked about Notre Dame's home opener. "I'm going to try to watch every game this fall. I really don't know much about [the team], but I hope they smash them. I expect them to win. .

"I'll definitely watch the style of play, because whenever I watch football I try to learn something. I don't really study the game, but I do try to pick new stuff up. It's fun. It'll be really fun to watch the team on national television. If I can pick up anything that will help me when I get there, that will be even better, but it'll just be fun to watch a team that I'll be on." .

With a young team and a difficult early schedule, the Irish could struggle out of the gate. If that were to happen, it won't concern Johnson. .

"If Notre Dame went 0-10, I would still go to Notre Dame," Johnson explained. "I chose the school for the school. They're not going to go 0-10, because they've always been a decent team, but even if they go .500 I'm not going to change my decision at all. .

"If they do struggle then that's just an opportunity to go in there and play early. If they have a great team and a great defense, then that's just competition. That's just the way I look at it. .

"I didn't choose Notre Dame for the football," Ethan said. "Notre Dame has always been good, but they haven't really been a contender [for the national championship] in 20 years. I could have chosen someone else, but I just feel that Notre Dame has the best of both worlds." .

The Notre Dame staff expects to challenge for the national title very soon, and they expect Johnson to be a big part of the program's success. .

"The coaches have stayed in touch," he said. "They e-mail me once in awhile since they can't text me anymore. Coach Weis sends me an email every couple days. Coach Brown and coach Oliver send me e-mails. I don't look at it as them giving me attention, I look at it as them just checking in and seeing how I'm doing. They're not really recruiting me anymore. I'm already committed, so I hope they assume that I'm going to go to Notre Dame." .

Although he will keep tabs on his future teammates, Johnson has his own business to attend to as Lincoln's season opener is just around the corner. .

"I'm definitely getting butterflies thinking about it," Johnson said. "I'm just looking to do my best this year. I'm trying to get in as good of shape as I can right now. I work out extra by myself. I'm basically trying to get in the best cardio shape as I can, so I can go full speed every play this year. Last summer I didn't do that, so I kind of suffered during season. I didn't dominate the way I wanted to. Every two plays I'd go hard and then I'd be pretty fatigued. This year that won't happen. .

"Although I've been running a lot, I've actually gained weight. Personally, I gain a lot of weight in my legs and my core when I run. I'm weighing about 270-275 pounds now. I'm in better shape though and I feel great. My legs have gotten stronger. I jump a lot of rope, and I'm trying to run 15 minutes a day, consistently. I run for 15 minutes, I bike for 30 minutes, and then jump rope for 15 minutes. Every day I try to pick up the intensity. I didn't even do much bench this year. I just did push-ups and pull-ups. I did a lot of back workouts, and I swam." .

In addition to his conditioning, Johnson has been working on improving his technique. .

"We're running a ‘3-4' and a ‘4-3' this year," Johnson explained." In the ‘3-4' I'll play defensive end. In the ‘4-3', I'll play all the positions except nose tackle. Right now I'm more comfortable at the ‘3-technique', the defensive tackle spot, because that's what I played last year. .

"I'm getting use to playing defensive end in the ‘3-4'. I like it a lot. I'm getting more comfortable with it. I can rush the edge, and at the same time I'm using my defensive tackle move. I'm working on my pass rush moves after I check the run. Everyone wants to be able to rush the passer on first and second down and that's what I'm trying to do right now. .

"You always strike first when you check the run," Johnson said. "You make contact, and try to get their hands off you, or manipulate their shoulders. In my opinion that's that hardest part of playing the defensive line. Usually you have a one or two big dudes holding you and you have to get their hands off you, and get on the edge of one of them. If I had to rate the hardest thing for a defensive linemen to do, it would be to check the run and then rush the passer." .

Johnson is planning on making his official visit for the Boston College game. Top Stories