Redshirt freshman DJ Johnson made his first start for the Iowa football team Saturday, and after struggling early, rebounded impressively.
No matter what, your first college start is likely going to invoke some nerves, but making it on the road in a hostile environment against your team’s biggest rival is on another level. Yet, that’s exactly what Iowa football player DJ Johnson had to do as he was thrust into the starting role due to a plethora of injuries to the Hawkeye secondary.
And to a casual fan, it might not have looked like Johnson had a good game, but that would be doing him a disservice.
Yeah, the guy had a few mistakes, but he finished strong.
Both of Iowa States touchdown plays appeared to have involved the redshirt freshman to an extent, but without knowing the specific defensive play call, we can’t say for certain. However, I’ll take a stab. On the wide receiver pass, it looked like Johnson moved up to attack Deshaunte Jones (who had the ball and would eventually pass) while La’Michael Pettway blew right past him.
On the next big touchdown play by Iowa State, it appears that there was a mixup with the deep crossing routes as Johnson stayed on his man and sophomore safety Jack Koerner also went towards Johnson’s man freeing up Tarique Milton for the touchdown. That one, in my opinion, is not on Johnson, but nevertheless, he was involved.
Yet, instead of crumbling after a few mistakes, the Indianapolis product showed maturity and resolve beyond his years and came back to have a great game.
There would be no more big throws or touchdown passes by Iowa State after that, and save for a defensive pass interference call that was fortunately negated by an Iowa State holding call, Johnson was a huge part of that.
The Big Ten even noticed Johnson’s outstanding play, awarding him Co-Freshman of the Week honors.
The future is bright with Johnson, and this certainly won’t be the last time he is honored by the Big Ten.
With Hankins likely returning by the Middle Tennessee State game, we could see the Iowa football team began working in the 4-2-5 a bit more after seeing what their starting “cash” player DJ Johnson looked like in game-action against Iowa State.