Illinois football still had some work to do to fill out the class of 2021, and new head coach Bret Bielema is already hard at work doing so.
Entering Monday, Illinois only had 15 commitments for 2021. Coach Bielema and his staff had already secured a commitment from three-star running back Josh McCray. He is coming in as a true freshman, alongside three transfers who have also committed to Illinois.
One area of concern for the Illini moving forward is at linebacker. With two big-time linebackers departing in Jake Hansen and Milo Eifler, the Illini were looking for more depth to replace those two. That is what they received on Monday evening.
— Dwayne Johnson (@DJSGHS4) January 19, 2021
After receiving an offer from the Illini on Monday, Dwayne Johnson decided to announce his commitment to the Orange and Blue. He posted to his Twitter account that he was committing to Illinois. He picked the Illini over some solid programs like Memphis, Kansas State, Cincinnati and Arkansas.
What is Illinois getting with the Johnson commitment?
First off, let’s look at his recruiting profile. Johnson is listed at 6-foot-3.5, 225-pounds, so the size is great. That is exactly what I want in a linebacker. He is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 2008 player in the class of 2021 and the No. 134 outside linebacker in the nation. Those numbers are a little low but judging by his scholarship offers, I assume the rankings are off.
Now let’s take a look at what this kid can do on the football field.
Wow, there is a lot to love about Johnson’s game. The first thing that stands out to me is his quickness. He can get to a ball carrier as quickly as a blitzing safety would be able to get there. He can also drop back in coverage to cover just about anyone on the field.
Another thing that stands out to me is Johnson’s vision on the field. He can read and react quickly to what he is seeing. He doesn’t just jump into the pile. This kid has the patience to see what is happening and then is one step ahead of the offensive player. It is really fascinating to watch.
Honestly, I am kind of surprised Johnson isn’t in the top 2000 nationally. With his size, speed and vision, I believe he could help Illinois early on in his career. This is a great find and snag by the new Illini coaching staff.