Miami football aggressive defensive style impresses DE DeAndre Johnson

Tennessee linebacker Deandre Johnson (13) during a game between Tennessee and Georgia in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday, October 5, 2019.Utvgeorgia1005
Tennessee linebacker Deandre Johnson (13) during a game between Tennessee and Georgia in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday, October 5, 2019.Utvgeorgia1005 /

Defensive end DeAndre Johnson chose the Miami football program as a transfer from Tennessee because of the Hurricanes defensive style of play. Johnson is a key addition to the Miami defense that lost edge rushers, Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche. Behind Johnson, Miami will be extremely young at DE.

Redshirt freshman Jahfari Harvey is projected to start with Johnson at DE. In 40 games with Tennessee, nine starts, Johnson recorded 58 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and five forced fumbles. Harvey had 16 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and one sack in 2020. Miami is talented behind them but extremely inexperienced.

In the five years of the Manny Diaz led Miami defense, the Hurricanes have been one of the best getting up the field and into opponents’ backfields. With Diaz resuming being the defensive coordinator and head, the Miami football program is expected to return to playing more aggressively on defense during the 2021 season.

The last season Diaz called the Miami defense, the Hurricanes finished ninth in with 3.08 sacks per game and led the nation with 10.46 tackles for loss per game in 2018. The development of the Miami DL will be critical during spring practice and in training camp in August. Johnson adds an important veteran presence.

"“Just looking at Miami’s defense, and its history as a whole, it’s a prestigious program and a great place to play football. Looking at the scheme, they let their ends just fly and make plays in the backfield and that’s a thing I felt fit my playing style and was something I needed.Watching those guys fly around and get to the quarterback and just disrupt plays before they even happen, it’s something you’re used to watching in a Miami Hurricanes defense. It’s a feeling that you know feels great, but it’s also a feeling of responsibility, knowing I wear The U on my chest now.The South Florida guys who came before me went out there each and every day and gave their all for the program. Knowing I have shoes to fill and expectations now, being closer to home, the spotlight got even bigger. It’s just one of those things that you feel it, you know it’s there and I’m just ready to attack it.It’s the next step in my life. I’m just ready.”Transcript courtesy MiamiHurricanes.Com"

The importance of the experience Johnson brings to the Miami edge rushers cannot be overstated. Other Miami DL have a combined four starts in their collegiate careers. Harvey has two, Cameron Williams and Chantz Williams have one each. Johnson is switching from an edge-rushing linebacker in a 3-4 defense to DE in a 4-3.

The Miami pass rush is the biggest question facing the Miami football team in 2021. Phillips and Roche are two of the three starters Miami lost from 2020. Tight end Brevin Jordan was the other. Johnson, cornerback Tyrique Stevenson and wide receiver Charleston Rambo are Miami’s latest foray into the transfer portal.

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Miami has had a lot of past success with transfer DL. If the Hurricanes can continue that success with Johnson he will have a big impact defensively. Prior to Johnson, Miami has added five transfer DL over the past few years. Diaz has a proven track record to develop transfers on the DL. Johnson should benefit from that.