It was news we all expected.
In a Twitter post, Oregon linebacker DJ Johnson said he will opt out of the Holiday Bowl and declare for the NFL draft.
Johnson has had quite the career at Oregon after transferring from Miami after the 2017 season. The previous coaching staff didn’t know exactly what do with the 6-foot-4, 270-pound athlete. He started out on defense as a defensive lineman before switching to the offensive side of the ball as a tight end during the pandemic season of 2020. He caught 10 passes for 121 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Johnson then moved back to defense in 2021 showing his versatility. He filled in at tight end out of necessity and caught one pass. Under Dan Lanning, Johnson was strictly an outside linebacker and it proved to be the correct move.
In the new scheme under Lanning and defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi, Johnson proved to be difficult to handle for opposing offensive lines. He racked up 39 tackles, 8.5 for loss and six sacks. He’s thought of as a big-time NFL prospect and should be drafted in second or third round.
But his immediate future and bowl game availability came into question due to an on-the-field incident after the Ducks’ 37-34 loss to the Beavers. Johnson was filmed pushing an OSU fan in the back as people rushed the field after the game.
“I know DJ wishes he could have that moment back. It’s an intense situation. You know that those things happen at times and I know that he would handle it differently given the opportunity,” Lanning said. “But right now he’s a guy that has the opportunity to compete and move on in the NFL draft and he’s put himself in the position to do that. I think he’s gonna take that chance to go to the Senior Bowl, but I don’t want to speak for DJ too much. But I think right now he’s in preparation for the draft.”
Four days later, Johnson made it official.