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2018 Pinstripe Bowl Player Profile: Jaquan Johnson

In an injury-plagued year, will Johnson end his Canes’ career with a fitting finale?

NCAA Football: Duke at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

For the last two seasons, Jaquan Johnson has been one of Miami’s most important pieces on defense. In a breakout 2017, Johnson was everywhere when out on the field, making plays from the deep middle, two deep or up at the line of scrimmage. However, the senior will find his career with Miami down to a final game. It may not be where he wanted to see his time in Coral Gables end, but it will give him one more game to make a highlight-worthy play or two and solidify his NFL draft status.

Johnson was a consensus 4-star safety coming out of high school at Miami Killian and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Choosing Miami over teams like FSU, UF and Alabama, Johnson saw playing time right away, grabbing 26 tackles and an interception as a true freshman. While still behind players like Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter early in his career, Johnson’s 2017 was among the best Miami has had at the safety position in quite a while.

After 13 games in 2017, Johnson would find himself as a second team All-American and second team All-ACC contributor. He finished with 96 tackles, three for loss, four interceptions and a sack. He would also break up four passes, force three fumbles and recover two more. At one point, Johnson had interceptions in three straight game; from Virginia Tech through Notre Dame and Virginia. His excellent read of a Kurt Benkert pass against UVA saw him shift momentum by him bring it back for a touchdown in a 44-28 win.

This year, still a second teamer on the All-ACC list, Johnson has been solid if unspectacular. He’s missed two games due to injury and it seems issues with his hamstring have lingered, as his impact hasn’t been as great and his snaps have dipped a bit. Still, Johnson is the quarterback of the secondary and the entire defense plays better when he’s back there; directing traffic and keeping everyone on the same page.

He’s only worn the turnover chain three times this year, for one interception and two forced fumbles, and has managed 79 total tackles. Still, no. 4 will play a huge part if the Hurricanes can shut down Wisconsin’s rushing attack, led by Jonathan Taylor. Though Johnson’s career doesn’t need anymore big plays to cement him as a great Miami safety, one last memorable, momentum-grabbing play will certainly be welcomed.