EVALUATION: D.J. Johnson, currently rated as the 21st best defensive end in the country, is a really intriguing prospect with a ton of upside. He's a very good athlete, with great, explosive straight ahead speed that he can use to either blow by offensive tackles or power through them, even though he isn't a whole lot more than 225 pounds right now. He has a great frame, looking about 6'4 or so the last time we saw him and with the shoulders and body to pack a good deal more weight on once he gets into a college weight program. He actually projects best as a 4-3 defensive end, so it's a bit fortuitous that UCLA is making the switch in terms of scheme. The big thing for Johnson is just refining his technique in all aspects of the game. We wouldn't say he's raw, because he's played at a pretty high level, but as with most very good athletes at the high school level, he hasn't had to put too much work in on his technique, since his first step and his natural strength are enough to beat most offensive linemen he goes up against. Johnson has also played a little tight end in high school, and that's certainly interesting, since his athleticism could translate to offense as well.
RECRUITMENT: UCLA was in on Johnson very early, and the Bruins were actually his first offer, with DL Coach Angus McClure extending the offer shortly after UCLA's camp last June. He subsequently earned an immediate offer from Washington State, and then has blown up on the strength of his junior season. He now has over 20 offers, including ones from such luminaries as Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, USC, Georgia, and more. McClure, though, has been on him for a long time, and also is probably related to half of the people in Johnson's immediate support circle. Immediately after the offer, UCLA was on top for Johnson, and the Bruins are still very heavily in the mix. With so many national offers, though, it's a good bet that Johnson's recruitment plays out for a good while longer. UCLA is probably in the market for at least one more defensive end in this class, and if the Bruins can add Johnson to the commitment they already have from four-star defensive end Hunter Echols, that'd put them in very good shape for the 2017 class.