The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Big cleats to fill: Jarrett Johnson tasked with replacing Myles Garrett

Photo by File

Defensive end Jarrett Johnson played behind Myles Garrett last season,

but found playing time vs. Tennessee.

When Myles Garrett was selected first overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, he made history by becoming the first number one pick in Texas A&M football history. The defensive end was a force to be reckoned with during his time in College Station, logging 31 sacks and 47 tackles for loss in three years. Now that Garrett is playing on Sundays for the Cleveland Browns, it’s time for senior defensive end Jarrett Johnson to take over. 

Johnson hails from Katy, Texas, and attended Seven Lakes High School, where he bullied offensive linemen on his way to becoming a four-star recruit and top-40 player in the state of Texas. Johnson tallied 59 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and four sacks in his senior year at Seven Lakes, earning him District 19-5A defensive player of the year honors. Johnson committed to A&M on June 2, 2013 over offers from Baylor, Missouri, Northwestern, Oklahoma and Texas, among others. 

“I respect him fully, I love the guy, and I learned a lot from him,” Johnson said of Garrett. “He’s an amazing player, so being able to watch him play and perform took away some of the heartache of not being able to play as much as I wanted to.” 

In addition to learning on the field from his predecessor, Johnson and Garrett also learned from each other off the field in the classroom, because of their shared interest in geology and paleontology. The two studied together and would even talk about class while in defensive meetings and defensive ends coach Terry Price would have to get to get them back on topic. 

In his first three years, Johnson recorded 50 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks behind Garrett. In 2016, Johnson shined in the Prairie View A&M University and Tennessee matchups in front of the home crowd at Kyle Field. Against Prairie View Johnson notched two sacks, one of which resulted in a safety, and against Tennessee, Johnson recorded a career-high six tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Johnson showed plenty of great flashes while getting extended playing time in 2016 due to Garrett’s injury issues.

“He’s a sneaky good guy,” A&M offensive lineman Erik McCoy said. “He has all of the physical attributes of a guy like Myles, and the guy can play. He’s a very smart player, he’s hit me with some nice moves a couple of times in practice. Be prepared for him, he’s going to show some people something this year.”

After Garrett was taken first overall and his counterpart on the defensive line Daeshon Hall was taken in the third round, Johnson has to provide consistent play along with fellow senior defensive lineman Qualen Cunningham. On a defense that gave up an average of 442 total yards per game and 192 rushing yards per game last year with Garrett and Hall, Johnson and Cunningham have to be leaders and bring a change to the defense along with defensive coordinator John Chavis.

“You’re not looking for one player to replace those two,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “But I think those top four [defensive ends] will have the opportunity to approach that production this year, and if they do that, you’ll get what you’re looking for.” 

Since Johnson is from Houston, Hurricane Harvey has had an impact on his family, like many Aggie players, but his family is safe and he’s looking forward to playing in the Rose Bowl against different competition than his teammates.

“I’m excited,” Johnson said. “I’m excited to go play some football against somebody else in California. I’m excited to play with my teammates and show everybody what we’re capable of and what we’ve been working on during the spring and fall camp.”

The pressure might be on Johnson, but his head coach and his teammates believe in him. Johnson’s patiently waited for his time, and now that Garrett is gone, his time has come to be a leader and a playmaker on defense. 

“It’s his time,” Sumlin said. “People forget that he got a lot of snaps last year because Myles was hurt. He’s got experience, he’s got savvy, he’s gained weight to hold the point a little bit more and he’s an every-down guy now. I know he’s anxious to play and anxious to lead.”

Johnson and his Aggie teammates will start their season in the Rose Bowl against UCLA on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The matchup will be televised nationally on Fox.

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