SAN ANTONIO — Texas linebacker commitment Dravannti Johnson talks about his play this week, transitioning to linebacker, enrolling this month and his big, big expectations during an exclusive interview with Inside Texas from U.S. Army All-American Bowl week.
IT: How do you feel like you played this week?
Dravannti Johnson: I did good. Everybody knows that I played (defensive end) 80 percent of my high school career. This week I’m playing outside linebacker. When I play for my school, it’s all right and I play in coverage a lot. All the colleges wanted me at linebacker. I think I’m probably a linebacker. It’s just a new beginning getting to play linebacker and having to develop instincts to go off what you see from linemen and in the backfield. It’s something new. I’m just looking forward to getting better.
IT: In what areas have you played well this week?
Johnson: I was probably most comfortable in dropping back in pass coverage. That’s what I do for my school. I don’t have a lot of experience stacking up inside the box. Usually I’m outside on receivers in space. That’s what I’m really used to and that’s what I do good in. Reading linemen, being in the box and all those other linebacker things, I’m going to have to learn and get helped on.
IT: In what areas do you feel like you need to improve?
Johnson: Just like any other guy I need to improve my speed, quickness, strength. Really for me, just footwork, speed and learning how to become a better linebacker.
IT: Which of the Texas commitments has impressed you the most this week and why?
Johnson: A.J. (Aaron Williams). He’s an athlete. He’s going to play tough. He’s going to play hard. He’s going to hit. He seems to be a good player all around.
IT: What has it been like spending time this week with the other Texas commitments here?
Johnson: Oh yeah. All the Texas kids we already know each other. It’s just fun getting together with guys from all over the nation. Sometimes you read about guys or hear about guys and now additionally you get to know them. We’re all the same people. It don’t matter where you’re from. We’re all cool. We’re all messing around. We all play football.
IT: You are enrolling at Texas this month. Are you ready?
Johnson: The countdown has been on for a while for me. It’s exciting. It’s something new. Of course you’re going to be nervous about it. You know going to college and starting to practice with the team and everything. I’m just ready to get up there and start working.
IT: What are your expectations for next season?
Johnson: They’re high. I don’t expect to come off the chart and beat everybody out. I expect to go out there and work hard and see where I fit in the rotation. Hopefully, I can crack two deep and play as a freshman. That’s the plan.
IT: What have the Texas coaches told you about next season?
Johnson: I’ve got a chance to come in and play at strongside linebacker depending on how I workout, how I learn the system. That’s why I’m getting there early. Really, playing (defensive end) so much, you don’t know how to play linebacker and everything that’s going through it. There’s a lot more things you have to learn. That’s why I got out early so I can learn everything real well. If I learn everything, I say I have a chance to play next year.
IT: Are you nervous about the learning curve you will go through to play linebacker?
Johnson: I’ve played a lot of positions at my school depending on where they needed me at. I played some linebacker, but it’s not been the typical linebacker position. I’ve been off on receivers in one-on-one coverage. My time in the box was limited. I didn’t practice as a linebacker. I was a (defensive end). The learning curve of reading linemen is really going to be big to me and just being able to move laterally and downhill. As a (defensive end), I’m used to coming off the ball, being physical and moving down the line and straight into the backfield. Just going downhill, reading keys and everything, that’s going to be a big adjustment for me.
IT: What are your team goals for Texas?
Johnson: Ten wins isn’t enough for us. Every year, we’re trying to get a ring. I expect to have four rings.
IT: Anything else to add?