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Sport: Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 20 JoJo Johnson, freshman cornerback, former Cincinnati commit

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Listed measurements: 5-foot-10, 175 pounds. 2021-22 year, eligibility: A freshman, Johnson has all four seasons of eligibility ahead of him. Depth Chart: Johnson will be mired somewhere on the third-string or scout team at cornerback, but given Notre Dame has no firm idea of its current nickel back depth, he could find a worthwhile home there early on. Recruiting: A consensus three-star prospect, Johnson was a longtime Cincinnati commitment, in no small part because of cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens. When Mickens joined the Irish staff after the 2019 season, he began recruiting Johnson all over again, now holding off other suitors such as Michigan State, Purdue and Iowa.

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Mickens eventually won over Johnson a second time, to then Bearcats defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s chagrin and now gratitude.

No. 20? NOW? Even after seeing Johnson’s updated profile on Notre Dame’s athletic website, an update that includes No. 20, it is hard to believe he will wear it. The Irish have another freshman defensive back, safety Justin Walters, also listed as No. 20. Assuming those are both accurate, Notre Dame will not be able to play these two players at the same time.

That may not be much of an issue in 2021, given they are freshmen and won’t see much playing time, regardless, but it limits special teams flexibility. For example, they could not both be on a field goal coverage unit.

Furthermore, it could be argued that building in an eventual number change for a player might cut into their hopes of image and likeness profits, as building a brand often hinges on consistency.

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Lest anyone think the digits suggest Johnson will move to receiver, many of the same issues arise given senior running back C’Bo Flemister wears No. 20.

To think, Johnson wore No. 2 at points in high school, and that will now sit there, unused.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS To be clear, that branding argument is not made facetiously.

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN JOHNSON SIGNED “Johnson spent most of his high school career at receiver, showcasing his speed but thus needing to develop his coverage skills, a task he can begin in earnest when he enrolls early in February. …

“Speed and quick hips can take a cornerback a long way. If/when Johnson adds coverage skills to his quiver, the Irish always seem to be one cornerback short, so there will be a role waiting for him.”

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QUOTES Now Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, Freeman has been watching film of Johnson for years, getting to know the Indiana product while Cincinnati held his commitment.

“What a great young man,” Freeman said in February. “Extremely, extremely talented football player. Did some great things on a football field …

“Obviously, halfway through the year he reached out to us (at Cincinnati) and said that he’s going to decommit. He’s one of the best players in the country at his position. He’s a great athlete, … and he’s extremely fast.”

Inside the Irish

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2021 OUTLOOK Speed and a competitive mindset are buzzwords sought by special teams units — and special teams coordinator Brian Polian considered Johnson one of the most underrated prospects in the class of 2021 — so Johnson will have an early chance to impress the Irish coaching staff with some coverage tackles.

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And if he shows a willingness to bring that physicality into press coverage near the tackles, then Johnson may have a future at nickel back.

Notre Dame does not have a dedicated nickel back right now, at least not to public knowledge. Finding a dedicated No. 2 nickel back should not be the top priority, but it will still need to be done this preseason.

DOWN THE ROAD The Irish secondary will enjoy a cheat code this year with junior safety Kyle Hamilton covering for everyone else’s mistakes. As soon as that disappears in 2022, Notre Dame will need to reevaluate nearly every position, no longer able to ignore lower floors in search of higher ceilings.

That could work to Johnson’s benefit, particularly if he gets some defensive snaps this year.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0

Let’s try this again

No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle

No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end

No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen

No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end

No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle

No. 91 Joshua Bryan, incoming freshman kicker

No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback

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No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon

No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’

No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end

No. 83 Jayden Thomas, freshman receiver, four-star prospect out of Georgia

No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver

No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver

No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end

No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle

No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center

No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman

No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman

No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter

No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center

No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit

No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle

No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle

No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter

No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle

No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman

No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle

No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman

No. 55 Kahanu Kia, freshman linebacker, Hawaiian, LDS member

No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle

No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?

No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center

No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog

No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard

No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end

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No. 47 Jason Onye, incoming and raw freshman defensive end

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No. 44 Devin Aupiu, early-enrolled freshman defensive end

No. 44 Alex Peitsch and No. 65 Michael Vinson, Irish long snappers, both needed

No. 41 Kurt Hinish, fifth-year defensive tackle, eventual record-holder in games played

No. 40 Drew White, fifth-year linebacker, three-year starter

No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, fifth-year kicker, using the pandemic exception

No. 35 Marist Liufau, junior Hawaiian linebacker

No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, junior defensive end

No. 33 Shayne Simon, senior linebacker

No. 32 Prince Kollie, freshman linebacker, Butkus Award winner

No. 29 Matt Salerno, senior punt returner, walk-on

No. 29 Khari Gee, freshman safety, former LSU commit

No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, senior cornerback, possible nickel back

No. 27 JD Bertrand, junior linebacker

No. 26 Clarence Lewis, sophomore cornerback, second-year starter

No. 25 Philip Riley, early-enrolled freshman cornerback

No. 25 Chris Tyree, speedy sophomore running back

No. 24 Jack Kiser, junior linebacker, onetime pandemic hero

No. 24 Audric Estime, freshman running back, former Michigan State commit, four-star

No. 23 Litchfield Ajavon, junior safety

No. 23 Kyren Williams, junior running back

No. 22 Logan Diggs, incoming freshman running back

No. 21 Lorenzo Styles, early-enrolled freshman receiver

No. 21 Caleb Offord, sophomore cornerback

No. 20 C’Bo Flemister, senior running back, coming off an offseason with a smirch

No. 20 Justin Walters, early-enrolled freshman safety and likely early special teams contributor

No. 19 Jay Bramblett, junior punter

No. 19 Justin Ademilola, senior defensive end

No. 18 Joe Wilkins Jr., senior receiver, team favorite

No. 18 Nana Osafo-Mensah, junior defensive end, coming back from a knee injury

No. 18 Chance Tucker, freshman cornerback

No. 17 Jack Coan, graduate quarterback, Wisconsin transfer

No. 17 Jordan Botelho, sophomore defensive end, full-speed at all times

No. 16 Deion Colzie, incoming freshman receiver with both speed and leaping height

No. 16 KJ Wallace, junior safety, possible starting nickel back

No. 15 Ryan Barnes, early-enrolled freshman cornerback

No. 14 Kyle Hamilton, junior safety, preseason All-American, top 2022 draft prospect

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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 20 JoJo Johnson, freshman cornerback, former Cincinnati commit originally appeared on NBCSports.com

'He's got a golden opportunity': LSU football fans greet new coach Brian Kelly .
"This is probably the most exciting hire that I’ve seen." Brian Kelly, LSU's new football coach, was welcomed by fans upon arrival in Baton Rouge.Fogg later relocated to the press box, where he’s kept game stats since 1972.

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