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Minnesota Football Recruiting: Dior Johnson Commits

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A week before Signing Day, Jerry Kill and Jay Sawvel land the highest rated prospect of the 2015 cycle while filling a position of extreme need.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Take that, Wake Forest!

Dior could easily develop into a complete safety prospect for Coach Sawvel


Southfield (MI) HS safety Dior Johnson committed to Minnesota this evening, instantly becoming not just the top rated player in the 2015 class but the highest rated defensive prospect to sign in the Kill era. Dior is a 3 star prospect according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, picking the Gophers after de-committing from Wake Forest along with listed offers from Indiana, Illinois and most of the MAC. Dior is the 23nd member of the 2015 class and seventh defensive back, joining fellow Southfield teammate and future Gopher Ray Buford, Jr. in Dinkytown.

Quotables

Dior with Gopher247's Kyle Goblirsch after receiving his Golden Gopher offer on January 8th ($):

The Gophers will try and lure the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Johnson away from his commitment to Wake Forest.

"All I can say right now is that is definitely something I will take a look at," Johnson said.

When a commit of yours takes a visit to another school after just getting offered in January, you're in trouble.

ESPNU eval ($):

Johnson is gifted with good size for a safety. He is tall and still young enough to gain even more weight and develop into a very physical player. His strength is average. Exhibits a good job of stopping the run but added bulk thus strength will only help him. Displays good speed as he can close on the thrown ball.

Johnson is a good player that should make a lower level power conference or mid-major program a safety they are excited about watching develop.

WWL isn't even pretending to try any more.

Straight from the horse's mouth via Detroit News:

"I consider myself to be very versatile," Johnson said. "I'm a natural receiver, but I've played DB the last three years and I feel I can get much better at that position."

Johnson said he saw significant improvement his senior season when he was no longer afraid to make mistakes.

"I just went out and put it all on the line," Johnson said. "I just went out and had fun and didn't play scared -- where I was afraid to maybe make a mistake before. I feel I got a lot better at being a sure-handed tackler too."

(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables**

** The section title is a bit. It's intentionally facetious comment on how recruiting sites (and even some college coaches) notoriously exaggerate traditional combine measures -- especially the 40. No offense is meant.

Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: NULL

Big 4 Ratings:

Site Stars Rating Position Rank
247 Composite 3 .8574 47
247 3 84 84
Rivals 4 5.8 20
Scout 3 N/A 36
ESPN 3 75 89

Dior is the first Rivals 4* defensive prospect in the Kill era and just the second overall.

Highlights

Senior Year (defensive highlights start at the 4:45 mark):

Thoughts

Absurd Comparisons

Dior has great height and frame for the safety position already coupled with very good speed. He's also very athletic for the position, evidenced by the fact he split time playing wide receiver and feels that's his more "natural" spot -- even if college coaches see things a bit different. From a height and frame point of view, he's very similar to current Gopher Damarius Travis. That said, Dior is just a bit more athletic and faster to go along with that great length.

Scheme Fit

The staff might be able to get away with redshirting a guy like Dior since they also brought in a JUCO safety (Ace Rogers) and an early enrollee (Jacob Huff) at the same spot, though Johnson is just a different type of player. Dior could easily develop into a complete safety prospect for Coach Sawvel, one who is physical enough to fill run fits in the alleys and the box, or turn and run with tight ends/slot receivers. He can play center field, though he's at his best moving forward. Sawvel and Claeys use Travis in a similar fashion, though I believe we'll see Damarius role expand a bit in 2015. The length and speed combo may also allow the staff to use Johnson in the role Cedric Thompson played this season, which was more coverage and match-up based. In reality, Dior's versatility against both the run and the pass gives him perhaps the highest ceiling of any defensive back they've brought in to date -- especially at safety.

Impact on Other Prospects?

With an impact prospect at safety finally lined up, the staff will wrap up their 2015 defensive back recruiting and turn their attentions to 2016. For the upcoming class, the Gophers will again look to backfill with a JUCO while building out depth with prep DBs.