The Clemson Insider gives a scouting report on every player on Clemson’s summer depth chart. We will break down what the player does best, what he needs to work on, how he compares to other former players at his position and where he fits on the Clemson roster.
Player name: Denzel Johnson (6-0, 195)
Player position: Free safety
Years left of eligibility: 3 years
Current rank on depth chart: Second Team
Player productivity so far: Johnson played primarily special teams in 2016, but also some at safety behind Jadar Johnson. Denzel Johnson produced nine tackles, including five on special teams, in 54 snaps while playing in 13 games. He had five tackles against South Carolina in the regular-season finale.
What player does best: Johnson is very athletic. He was a wide receiver in high school so he has good ball skills and he knows how to go up and get those contested 50-50 balls.
What player needs to work on: Johnson is still working on his techniques as well as understanding and reading offenses. He is smart young man so it is just a matter of him getting used to reading quarterbacks’ eyes as well as recognizing receiving routes.
Productivity of former Clemson players at the position (first year and last):
Jadar Johnson, 2016: He was a first-team All-ACC selection. He had 65 tackles and two tackles for loss. He was responsible for 7 passes broken up. He led the team with 5 interceptions, including one he returned 41 yards.
Jayron Kearse, 2013: He played in 12 games and started three as a true freshman. He tallied 55 tackles overall. He had 0.5 tackles for loss. He was tied for the team lead with four interceptions.
Jayron Kearse, 2014: He had 67 tackles, including 5 from behind the line of scrimmage. He also had 3 sacks. He broke up 7 passes and had 2 interceptions.
Jayron Kearse, 2015: He earned All-American honors thanks to his 87 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. He also had 5 quarterback pressures and broke up 8 passes and had one interception.
Jonathan Meeks, 2011: He had 61 tackles, including one tackle behind the line of scrimmage. He broke up 5 passes and led the Tigers with 3 interceptions, including one he returned 41 yards.
Jonathan Meeks, 2012: He had 67 tackles, including one tackle for loss. He also broke up 5 passes and had 2 interceptions.
What can you hope for? You hope the coaches are right about Johnson’s potential. Last year, head coach Dabo Swinney and Brent Venables raved about his potential and what they were seeing from him in practice. They carried over to the spring where he continues to develop and moved up the depth chart.
What is a realistic expectation? Denzel Johnson was a little bit of surprise last year on the back end of the defense as he earned playing time, and by the end of the year was listed as Jadar Johnson’s backup in the Fiesta Bowl and in the National Championship Game.
What about the future? Johnson is another one of those you defensive backs that continue to get better and shows just how deep the Tigers’ secondary really is.
—Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
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