#27 Anthony Johnson
Class: RS Freshman
Hometown: Coconut Creek, FL
Thoughts: Anthony was an early commit for the Cards last year, pledging his allegiance to the Cards while on campus back in July of 2016, prior to his senior season. A Top 100 safety nationally Johnson picked the Cards over USF, WKU, and Pittsburgh. I spoke last year about his ability to always find the ball (ballhawk) and how large his coverage area was at the high school level. The staff was impressed with his talent as a true freshman when he got to school last summer but they also saw how raw he was in certain areas as well. As not to blow a season of eligibility with some upperclassman targeted to get the majority of the reps, AJ took a redshirt.
A few months into 2018 the redshirt appeared to have been well used as Johnson was making plays in the spring both on and off the field. Petrino called him out as a playmaker on a couple different occasions back in April and noted how impressive Johnson was in the testing week leading up to Spring ball. When he signed with the Cards his high school coach said Johnson is “what every power five conference is looking for in a cornerback” and although the final results aren’t in, the early polling numbers are looking good.
You’ve read about a lot of the depth in the Cards secondary already (assuming you’re an avid countdown reader) and in the next few weeks you’ll read more about the guys who we anticipate to be the Day 1 starters (Mbanasor/Burns/Yeast), in my opinion Johnson falls somewhere in the middle of those two groups. I don’t think he will be lumped into the group of 4 or 5 that will rarely see the field in 2018 as I think he has the talent to get a decent amount of live reps this season, but he also isn’t at the point in his career where he is going to infringe on the PT of a couple three year players. If Johnson gets some early chances in ‘no contest’ situations I think he’ll make the most of it and earn more time as the season progresses. If he doesn’t get that chance in 2018 I’d expect him to jump on the scene in a big way 2019 and beyond.
For those who forgot, Mr. Johnson was the one who coined the nickname #TaxBoys for the secondary last season. Cool name…but lots of teams ‘delayed their returns’ if ya know what I’m saying. I think the 2018 Tax Boys will be an improvement for sure, but how insistent they are about “getting that money” will likely determine how the defense is graded out this year.