Now for some good news.
DJ Johnson, a former 4* defensive back (per 247 Sports) out of Indianapolis (North Central High School), announced that he will complete his transfer from Iowa and return to Indiana to suit up for the Boilermakers.
New beginnings!! Just want to give all praises to the most High for allowing me to be in this postition. I am officially committed to Purdue university. West Lafayette I promise you are getting the best version of me #boilerup #station21 pic.twitter.com/0CG2KAtCUk— DJ JOHNSON (@DjJohnson1127) June 12, 2020
Johnson is a corner with solid length at 6’0, 170. He redshirted his first season at Iowa, and played sparingly as a freshman in 2019, but was thought to be an emerging player for Iowa in 2020 before he entered the transfer portal. His best game in an Iowa uniform came against rival Iowa State. DJ led the Hawkeyes in tackles with 9 and added a tackle for loss, a sack, and 2 pass break ups. This performance netted him a share of Big 10 Freshman of the Week honors.
247 Sports writer Dylan Burn said, “...There is a lot of potential with this one and he’s a kid that a lot were excited about when Iowa beat out the likes of Notre Dame and LSU for his services” when discussing Johnson’s 2020 prospects at Iowa for 2020 (free 247 article here).”
As a Recruit
In my opinion, Johnson was “the one that got away” in the 2018 class. I thought Purdue had a legitimate shot to land Johnson out of North Central, but instead, he joined fellow Indianapolis natives Julius Brents and Tyrone Tracey in the 2018 Iowa class.
I thought he was under rated coming out of high school, even as a low 4* player, because of his versatility and overall athletic ability. He showed off that athleticism as a sophomore at North Central as a contributing member of an excellent basketball team featuring 5* Kris Wilkes that finished the 2017 at 22-4.
How Does He Fit?
Johnson adds another versatile piece to a Bob Diaco defense that thrives on multi-taskers in the secondary. He can play corner, nickel, and safety, and will probably play all 3 at some point in the Diaco defense.
His ability to make tackles in the secondary should be a major asset, with Diaco favoring a zone defense that requires corners and safeties to rally to the ball and make tackles. Purdue suffered some attrition at the corner back spot this off season, but I consider Johnson a significant upgrade over the players that left the program.
As it stands now, Johnson is a sit one, play 2 traditional transfer. I will add, however, that Johnson receiving a waiver for immediate eligibility is not out of the question, but I have no clue if that’s something Johnson and Purdue will pursue.
* Update - Purdue and Johnson will seek a waiver for immediate eligibility. If it is granted, Purdue landed a 4* DB w/ 3 years remaining in his career. It would be an amazing pick up this late in the game...or really at any time.
As it stands now, he’ll get a year to learn Diaco’s system and be reading to hit the field in 2021 with junior eligibility.