Jan Johnson took a redshirt in 2015 during his freshman season. Don’t take that to mean that he didn’t get much action, as the 6’2, 231 pound linebacker took part in 8 dual meets as a member of Cael Sanderson’s National Championship wrestling team, competing as a heavyweight that season.
In September of 2016, Johnson made his first appearance for the football team, on the road during a blowout loss at the hands of Michigan. The linebacker corp was decimated by injury before Brandon Smith was given a penalty for targeting and ejected from the game. With the loss of Smith, Johnson was pressed into action. He made his first two career tackles and then suffered a season-ending injury. The injury did not keep him from making the Dean’s List for the fall semester of 2016.
Johnson followed up as an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2017 while appearing in six games, mostly on special teams. The linebacker group had enough depth that he was not pressed into service. That may change this season.
Just a couple of days ago, when asked about the middle linebacker position, coach James Franklin acknowledged that many people are talking about two youngsters, Jesse Luketa and Micah Parson, to fill the void. Veteran Jake Cooper was mentioned, along with Jan Johnson, as being players with a chance to play at middle linebacker this season.
While time will tell if Johnson will play with regularity outside of special teams duty, it is impressive that he has worked his way into the conversation. Nice work, Jan.
Just 36 more days until Penn State football!