The 2014 Ole Miss football season is just around the corner. Now that we have hit the 45 day mark until kickoff, we are going to countdown the most valuable Rebel players this season. Their rankings are based on their positions and how much of an impact they will bring to the table. Today on the countdown is…
DE, Philadelphia, MS
Bio: C.J. Johnson came to Ole Miss as a member of 2011 signing class. While in high school, he was named a U.S. Army, Parade, PrepStar and SuperPrep All-America selection. He was listed as the No. 1 prospect on The Clarion-Ledger’s Top 10 Most Wanted list and was also named to the paper’s Dandy Dozen List. He was ranked the No. 1 player in Mississippi, the No. 2 inside linebacker in the nation and the No. 21 player overall in the country by Rivals.com. In the 2011 Ole Miss season, C.J. Johnson played in 11 games, starting three at defensive end. He recorded 32 tackles, including 4.0 tackles for a loss and 1.0 sack. In 2012, Johnson played in every game at defensive end, with 10 starts. He led the team with 6.5 sacks, finishing tied for eighth in SEC with 0.5 sacks per game. He finished sixth on team with 55 tackles and 4th with 8.0 tackles for a loss.
In 2013: C.J. Johnson started the first four games at defensive end last season and missed the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on his ankle. In those four games, Johnson recorded 12 tackles, 4.0 tackles for a loss and two QB hurries. His best performance of the 2013 season came in the win over Texas where he recorded five tackles, with a career-high 3.0 tackles for a loss, and a QB hurry.
The Value: Many are quick to forget that C.J. Johnson is a former 5-star prospect. So, the talent is there and I for one am ready to see him exile with his talent. Johnson had a very successful 2012 season, but I believe he is capable of producing more. During the offseason, he has proven he is healthy now from his injury and has went through spring and fall practices without any issue. C.J. Johnson has already been named preseason All-SEC third team by Lindy’s, fourth team by Phil Steele. He was granted a medical redshirt for missing majority of the 2013 season, so the Rebels might have the advantage of having him for two more seasons, if he choses not to go into the NFL Draft after this season. The Ole Miss defense was not horrible last season, but it’s not hard to imagine that if they had Johnson the full season, they could have been better. Considering the fact that Johnson led the team in sacks the previous season, which was an area of the game the Rebel defense struggled last season. Fellow teammate Larmey Tunsil had this to say about blocking C.J. Johnson to The Clarion Ledger:
“C.J., it may not look like he (doesn’t) have everything but he has everything. He’s fast off the edge, and he can convert that speed to power.”
As long as C.J. Johnson can remain healthy, he will be virtually unstoppable in the upcoming season. Johnson will line up at defensive end next to Issac Gross or Woodrow Hamilton at nose tackle, Robert Nkemdiche at defensive tackle, and likely across from Fadol Brown who will line up at the other starting defensive end position. It is looking to be a strong starting defensive line for the Rebels in 2014 and C.J. Johnson adds a lot to that factor.