Miami safety Jaquan Johnson consensus preseason All-American

TALLAHASSEE OCTOBER 7: Tight end Ryan Izzo
TALLAHASSEE OCTOBER 7: Tight end Ryan Izzo /

Building on an outstanding Junior season Miami safety Jaquan Johnson is getting a lot of notice for 2018. Two sites have Johnson as a first-team All-American and Sports Illustrated ranks him the eighth best player in the country.

Jaquan Johnson led Miami in Solo, assisted and total tackles last season and tied for the team lead in fumble recoveries and interceptions. UPI and Athlon Sports both have Johnson as a first-team All-American. Johnson’s selection by Sports Illustrated is higher than any players of Miami’s opponents on the 2018 schedule.

Johnson finished 2017 with 54 solo tackles, 42 assists and 96 total tackles. He was 12th in the ACC in tackles, tied for third in interceptions and tied for second in fumble recoveries.

Miami’s game against LSU will feature four of UPI’s 11 first-team All-America defenders. LSU linebacker Derrick White and cornerback Greedy Williams and Hurricanes cornerback Michael Jackson are all first All-American selections by UPI. Miami linebacker Shaq Quarterman is on the second team.

Having half of the All-America secondary from a major media outlet is a major accomplishment. Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz, Cornerbacks Coach Mike Rumph and Safeties Coach Ephraim Banda deserve a lot of credit. A year ago rebuilding the Miami secondary after losing four key players after the 2016 season was a priority.

In 2017 that was turned into a strength. Miami lost 2017 Graduate Transfer Dee Delaney and Sophomore Malek Young to a career-ending spinal injury. Everyone else returns, plus the Hurricanes bring in an exceptional recruiting class at defensive back.

Jaquan Johnson will be the leader of the secondary. Michael Jackson will also be another coach on the field for the young cornerbacks and safeties that are likely to receive a lot of playing time this fall.

Building on last season was the reason Johnson returned for his Senior season. The end of the 2017 season left the players back for 2018 wanting more. Mark Richt and Diaz have raised the bar with the Hurricanes players. They are thinking much bigger than an ACC Coastal Division title and Orange Bowl Berth.

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Buffalo Bills 2023 Free Agent Profile: Jaquan Johnson
Buffalo Bills 2023 Free Agent Profile: Jaquan Johnson /


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  • Johnson spoke to the Sun Sentinel’s Christi Cabrera Chirinos about the goals for the 2018 season.

    "“We want to win every game. That’s the standard. Win the Coastal, win the ACC Championship, get in the playoff, win the national championship…That’s why I came back my senior year. That’s what we plan on doing.”"

    The upperclassmen that have played under Richt seemed determined to restoring Miami to being a program that competes for National Championships every season. From 1983-94 and the early 2000s that was always the standard at Miami.

    Johnson, Jackson and Safety Sheldrick Redwine give the Hurricanes three Senior starters in the secondary. Johnson came back to finish what the Hurricanes started last season. He also feels that he can develop staying with Miami.

    "“You can develop. You get more developed, you understand the game more. Things start to slow down…You go in with knowledge you think you had when you’re a junior, but as a senior, you definitely know you know it.You can communicate to the [graduate assistants] and the scouts. You get stronger, you get faster. That’s why I think it’s important to come back. Then, you want to see things through. We have a great thing going here and I want to be a part of it. … It was a no-brainer.”"

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    Redwine was confident that Johnson would return for 2018.

    "“I’m happy he came back, but I knew he wasn’t going to leave…It’s a big difference [playing as a senior]. It’s another leader that you don’t lose that you can bring back to help the young guys. That’s really important.”"

    The Hurricanes could start an all Senior secondary if Jhavonte Dean is the starter opposite Jackson at cornerback. Add in the All-Junior linebacking core and the likelihood of two Seniors and two Junior starters on the defensive line and this will be Diaz’s most experienced unit in his three years with Miami.

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    The Hurricanes have the potential to have one of the best defenses in the country this season. Continued domination from the defensive line and turning opponents over will be important again. Jaquan Johnson was the team MVP last season. The expectation is that he will do that again.