Johnson Next In Line at Purdue?

The 6'5" DE from Tennessee says he'll make his decision following high school football season this fall.

When you think of Purdue football many will immediately conjur up images of the famous quarterbacks who have led the team to so many big wins over the years. However, in recent years - especially since the arrival of Joe Tiller and his staff - the Boilermakers have churned out many players that have ended up starring in the NFL at the defensive end position. Think of Rosevelt Colvin with the Bears and then the Patriots. Ray Edwards of Minnesota, Shaun Phillips of San Diego, Anthony Spencer with the Dallas Cowboys, Cliff Avril with the Lions. There is also Chike Okeafor at Arizona and Akin Ayodele now in Miami. The 2009 NFL draft also saw another Boiler DE snatched up, when Alex Magee was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 3rd round and recently signed to a multi-year deal.

So it should be no surprise that the Boilers continue finding talent across the country that ultimately will continue the recent tradition of strong defensive end play for Purdue. Recently, one such talented defensive end from Overton H.S. in Tennessee is on the Boiler radar and completed an official visit to the West Lafayette campus during the opening season game vs the Toledo Rockets. At 6'5", 215, Dezmond Johnson has a long, lean frame and is an upright end that could potentially give the Boilermakers another strong pass rusher that helps to put pressure on the quarterback.

While Johnson isn't finished with his research and decision-making on just which university he'll ultimately attend, he said the trip to Purdue in September was a "great" one. "It was very informative, especially as they (Purdue staff) discussed the educational programs at Purdue. They were very specific about certain things I was interested in and that I want to do (academically) which helped," Johnson said. Purdue was his first official visit but Johnson also stated he has visited Ole Miss in an unofficial capacity and is planning on returning there for an official stop. In our conversation via phone recently, Desmond sounded upbeat about the potential of a collegiate career at Purdue, but emphasized he has more work to do that leads to a final decision. " Right now I have only been on the one official visit (to Purdue), and I made an unofficial visit to Ole Miss, so I didn't really get all the information or meet any of the players there like I did when I went to Purdue, so it's really kinda hard to compare anything right now. I definitely want to go on an official visit to Ole Miss and at least one other school to get a chance to really compare everything."

What Johnson discovered during the visit has kept him interested in Purdue. "Everything that the staff told me on the phone prior to the visit corresponded to what I saw at the game. And of course every player wants to play right away, so coach Hope said I would have a chance for playing time even in my freshman year if I did well. Watching the game and the Purdue defensive ends, I play a similiar way they do, which is standing up and that's what most colleges who have been recruiting me are wanting from me anyhow. But I'll play anywhere the team needs me."

Johnson was also impressed with the current crop of Boilermaker football players during his time in West Lafayette. " I went to the game when they played Toledo game and they were pretty good in the game that day. I got to hang out with the players most of the time while I was there, which was a good experience. Everyone was real cool and down to earth and I enjoyed it very much."

And while the Tennessee area, and the southeastern U.S. in general, might be a logical area for the talented senior to end up, he's not worried about a change of location outside of that area. Stated Johnson, " I wouldn't mind being away from home, but I don't want to be too far away. Most of the schools recruiting me right now aren't that far away, like way out in California or a place like that, so being away from home at a school like Purdue isn't going to bother me."

For now though, Johnson is trying to focus on his remaining games for the Overton Bobcats, who are currently undefeated through 3 games in a 9 game schedule. " I told myself I would like to make a decision either close to or at the end of my senior season of football and before I begin playing basketball," said Johnson. " But I'll keep my options open and see if some other colleges might make a scholarship offer and see who commited to which school, so hopefully I can make a decision by the end of football season."

Boilermaker fans will no doubt be anxiously awaiting the decision coming out of the Nashville area later this fall, hoping that Desmond will be the latest addition to Purdue's tradition-rich "Den of Defensive Ends".

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