Austin Johnson committed to Penn State in the summer of 2011 (on the spot after earning an offer from Larry Johnson) as part of the class of 2012, and his offer was honored by Bill O'Brien when the coach took over in January 2012. After redshirting the fall of O'Brien's first year, Johnson headed into his redshirt freshman year much heralded, even making Phil Steele's honorable mention All-Big Ten list.
That first season for Johnson, much like the Penn State defense as a whole, was underwhelming, but he more than made up for it his second year on the field. As a redshirt sophomore, in 2014 he became part of arguably the best tandem of defensive tackles in the league, playing in all 13 games and logging 49 tackles (19 solo), six for loss, with one sack.
The Richland, NJ, native and 3-star recruit originally committed as an offensive lineman but quickly shifted to the defensive side of the ball, much to Sean Spencer's delight. He'll be an anchor of a defensive line in 2015 that will again look to stifle most opposing front fives, freeing up the playmakers in the back seven on defense; both he and Zettel will likely face double (or triple) teams on most downs in which they see the field.