At 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds, freshman safety James Johnson has good size for a college safety. Coach Todd Graham said he wants him to be bigger.
“Physically, he’s not where we want him to be, he’s going to be a really good size kid, a big safety” Graham said. “Looking down the road, you know, you hope you can redshirt him but we may not be able to because he’s doing well.”
Johnson could use a redshirt season to gain the necessary size but right now that seems unlikely. He’s already factoring into the two-deep, getting most of the reps with the second team at bandit safety behind senior Alden Darby.
Graham said Johnson is smart but Johnson feels he still has some learning to do. Luckily, he’s getting some help from the veterans.
“It felt great being behind Darby and getting to learn from a guy like that,” Johnson said. “Every day just learning something new, consistent learning.
“I thought I knew about football but these guys, they show me something new every single day.”
- Redshirt senior Robert Nelson started playing at field safety this week, leaving his normal cornerback spot and leapfrogging redshirt freshman Laiu Moeakiola. Moeakiola had been getting second team reps behind freshman Marcus Ball at field safety most of fall camp. It now appears Moeakiola is making a run at the starting field safety gig.
“If we played today, I’m not sure if Laiu wouldn’t start at free safety,” Graham said. “I really have a lot of confidence in him.”
- Junior linebacker Eriquel Florence, a three-star recruit from Contra Costa Community College in San Pablo Calif., made his first appearance at camp wearing only a jersey. He spent the day observing practice.
- Graham praised the freshmen Latu brothers, Villiami and Alani, saying he wouldn’t be surprised if they were in the lineup five weeks into the season. Villiami earned particular praise from Graham for his maturity.
“He does not have any freshman on him at all,” Graham said. “That mental maturity gives (him) a chance. He’s a guy I really think has a lot of promise.”
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