Miami Hurricanes S Jaquan Johnson came back to win a National Championship

TALLAHASSEE OCTOBER 7: Defensive back Jaquan Johnson
TALLAHASSEE OCTOBER 7: Defensive back Jaquan Johnson /

The Miami Hurricanes 2017 team MVP Jaquan Johnson told the Miami Herald on Tuesday that he returned for his Senior season to win a National Championship.

The Miami Hurricanes got close last season. They were second in the penultimate College Football Playoff regular season poll before losing to Pittsburgh in the final regular season game.

Miami returns seven starters on defense in 2018 including Johnson. Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine return at safety, Michael Jackson is back at one cornerback spot, defensive end Joe Jackson is entering his Junior season and all three rising Junior linebackers return.

Many of the national publications are touting the Miami Hurricanes defense as potentially being one of the best in the nation. Miami led FBS in sacks and was fourth in tackles for loss in 2017. They have to replace three-quarters of their defensive line though.

Joe Jackson is the only returning starter up front. The Hurricanes also lost defensive end Chad Thomas and defensive tackles R.J. McIntosh and Kendrick Norton. Trent Harris who rotated with Thomas and Joe Jackson at defensive end and led Miami in sacks is also gone.

Despite all the losses up front, Johnson told the Miami Herald the Hurricanes can still challenge for a national championship.

"“We want to win every game this year…That’s the standard. Win the Coastal, win the [Atlantic Coast Conference] championship, get in the playoff and win the national championship. That’s why I came back for my senior year, and that’s what we’re planning on doing.”"

Miami will be the favorite to win the ACC Coastal Division for a second straight season. Last year was their first division title and appearance in the ACC Championship game.

If they can get their again, they would likely play Clemson for a second straight season. The Tigers would almost assuredly be a significant favorite again.

ESPN has Clemson number one in the Football Power Index. The Tigers have a 68.5 percent chance of winning the ACC according to the FPI. Miami is 14th and given a 15.7 percent chance to win.

Miami Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz spoke about the importance of Johnson to the Hurricanes defense.

"“Heart and soul of UM’s secondary’…The guy is unbelievable…When you need a guy to make a play, that’s the guy. That’s the guy.’"

His teammates think just as highly of him as the coaching staff. It’s clear that Johnson is the leader of the defense. Defensive end Demetrius Jackson and safety Sheldrick Redwine both spoke to the Herald about Johnson. Jackson said:

"“It shows that a guy like that is not selfish. We’re from the same background…We come from the hood. It shows he’s not a greedy guy. He cares more about this team. He’s a team-first guy.He puts the team on his back…He knows what we’re going to do this year and I think that’s one of the reasons he came back, to be a part of something special.”"

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  • Redwine knows Johnson better than any of the Miami Hurricanes. They played together in high school at Miami Killian. Redwine is pleased that Johnson is back for his Senior season.

    "“Real happy…I always knew he wasn’t leaving. It’s a big difference. It’s another leader that you don’t lose that you can bring back to help the young guys.”"

    Johnson, Michael Jackson and Redwine will get one last season to play together as Miami Hurricanes. They will also be able to mentor a deep and talented group of players that will be backing them up. One might force his way into the starting lineup.

    Rising Sophomore Trajan Bandy made a lot of big play last season. He finished 2017 with 25 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, six pass breakups and the memorable pick-six against Notre Dame.

    Several of his 2017 recruiting classmates and the incoming Freshmen in the secondary ensure the Hurricanes defensive backs should be stout for at least the next few seasons.

    Next: Miami football safety Jaquan Johnson tried to convince DTs to return in 2018

    Johnson is concerned with the task at hand this year. The Hurricanes have the depth, talent and experience to make another statement on a national level. They have to close out the season stronger than last year. If they can do that, Johnson’s bold predictions could prove correct.