Freshman defensive end Johnson impressing in first week of camp

Remember the name Isaiah Johnson.

Johnson, a freshman defensive end, probably won’t start this year. He’s currently slotted fourth on Syracuse’s preseason depth chart. But if he continues to play at the level he is now, he’ll likely see some action this season.

Johnson has gotten praise from defensive line coach Tim Daoust all week. Daoust has been criticizing other players’ technique regularly, mainly defensive end Trevon Trejo.

He hasn’t found much to criticize Johnson for, though. And for good reason. In Syracuse’s 11-on-11 drill on Friday, Johnson stood out.

He recovered Steve Rene’s fumble and ran the other way, showing off impressive agility for a 6-foot-5, 291-pounder. Moments later, Johnson broke through the offensive line and trucked toward quarterback Drew Allen with his hands high in the air.

“Sack!” he yelled. He didn’t sack Allen because the defense wasn’t hitting quarterbacks in the drill, but he sure could have. He could have annihilated him.

Johnson isn’t just physical; he’s quick for his size. He also showed above-average hands for a defensive lineman and looks very comfortable for a true freshman.

Syracuse’s defense was steady Friday. A few impressive passes and big runs by the offense broke up what was otherwise a strong showing.

Shafer said he’s seen pretty good things from his defense this week, but he’s still looking for more mental consistency before the season opener.

“I think they’re on the right path,” Shafer said. “They’re on the right track, but they can still get run over.”

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