MVP No. 20 - An impact defensive lineman

It’s countdown time! A new feature at, we’re going to ascend daily toward who we perceive to be the most important player to Washington’s success, revealing a new name every day. Today we feature the first player on the list, and he has a chance to be a very good one.

At number 20 is a relative newcomer to the stage, but Jaylen Johnson just oozes potential. At 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds, Johnson signaled his rise this past spring with three sacks in the mock spring game, but his move up the UW defensive depth chart has been a steady one. 

Johnson played in every game last season, finishing with nine tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery in the Apple Cup. Those don’t sound like most valuable-type numbers, but with Elijah Qualls, Greg Gaines and Vita Vea looking more and more like the Huskies’ starting front it’s going to be essential that one of the backups show out and help replace the numbers left by Tani Tupou, who finished his UW career as a second-team All-Pac-12 pick. But Johnson's time out on the field this fall won't be as a deep backup, so his statistics will surely go up.  

There are bodies there: Benning Potoa’e, Shane Bowman, and Damion Turpin will undoubtedly contribute, and freshman Levi Onwuzurike could certainly surprise - but Johnson is the player whose star is definitely on the rise.

His value is in his size and versatility. He's still quick and strong enough to play on the edge and do damage as a rush guy, yet in passing situations he can play inside when the Huskies want to go smaller and even quicker. Top Stories