Season recap: Javarie Johnson
The word was out on Dunbar (D.C.) linebacker Javarie Johnson before his senior season.
Other Washington teams were well aware of the 6-foot-4, 208-pounder, who had collected 25 Division I scholarship offers -- from schools like Florida, Maryland, Michigan and others -- before committing to Miami last summer. Knowing about Johnson, however, didn’t help the opposition's attempts to neutralize him.
“A lot of teams didn’t run to his side,” said Dunbar coach Craig Jefferies. “But him being an outside linebacker, he had to go make plays. ... He ended up with 13 sacks, 80 tackles, something like 26 tackles for loss. He knocked down passes and forced fumbles. We went 9-2 and definitely across the board, we were pretty good. We gave up under 100 points all season. He was the leader on the team in terms of his play and his senior leadership that he provided for us.”
Part of that leadership came on special teams, which Johnson played with “a lot of vigor and a lot of intensity,” Jefferies said. Johnson would be the guy who set up the wall on punt returns. He was one of the first guys downfield to break up the wedge on kick coverage. His enthusiasm for special teams was contagious, and it also carried over to his play on defense.
“I saw him become a better tackler and I saw him take more chances,” Jefferies said. “He kind of played it safe, especially as an outside linebacker. It was instilled in him to take the right angle and turn things back in. He had to run his lanes and he had to take his drops. But this year he took more chances. He trusted his speed to get to the ball carrier and quarterback. He did that instead of playing conservative. So that was something that was a great improvement for him.”
Miami was Johnson’s “dream school,” but “things didn’t work out” between him and the Hurricanes, Jefferies said. Maryland was the natural choice for Johnson once he decided to switch his commitment earlier this month.
Johnson has already graduated from Dunbar and will enroll at College Park next week. The Terps coaching staff, Jefferies says, couldn’t be more excited for his arrival.
“Maryland’s excited about him and incorporating some special things in their blitz packages, having him come off the edge, things of that nature,” Jefferies said. “He’s definitely a guy who can contribute right away on special teams. What he can bring to the table is his speed and range as an outside linebacker who can drop into coverage and run with the No. 2 receiver, because he’s definitely a 4.5 guy.
“He has all the tools as far as speed and height to create some problems. Throw him in the zones and he’s fast enough to run with backs and ends. So I can envision him contributing right away. How much, I don’t know. It’s always hard to predict how much a freshman can play. But enrolling in school midyear can’t do anything but help him get on the field faster.”