NSD Scouting Report: Daje Johnson

One-by-one, we'll take a look at every member of the Texas recruiting class.

Don't blink, because you might miss him. Daje Johnson is the fastest commitment in the Texas class, a player who ran a 4.34 electronically timed 40-yard dash at The Opening. And that speed should ensure that Johnson has a place in the lineup early in his career.

The question, of course, is where to use him. Scout.com has him rated as a cornerback, and he certainly showed potential at that spot for Pflugerville Hendrickson. Obviously, Johnson has the speed to keep up with any receiver. But he isn't stiff through the hips and he isn't afraid to come up and make contact with the receiver.

Still, with D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin close to graduation, Johnson will likely start on the offensive side of the ball, where his speed makes him a constant home run threat. But on that side, he's more than just a guy with A-plus wheels. He runs with surprising strength for his size (5-10 180), and displays the ability to run through arm tackles. And while he's not as smooth a pass-catcher as Johnathan Gray is, Johnson has shown some potential in that area as well.

He isn't especially elusive with the ball under his arm, but does show a bit of an ability to use hesitation, to change speeds and then gear back up and blow away the slowing defender. He's a one-cut running back, and his zero-to-60 after he plants his first foot is simply outstanding. Many times he's alone running for the endzone before the secondary even realizes he's past the line.

Unfortunately, I don't think Johnson can catch the ball well enough to return punts at the next level, and beyond that, he doesn't show the necessary shift to be able to elude guys in space. But he is an excellent kickoff returner, and could play early there.

Any time you have a chance to take a guy with sub-4.35-second speed, you do it, especially when that player is as multi-talented as Johnson is. He'll be one to watch in Austin. Just remember not to blink.


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