By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
After a career that started with the University of Miami Hurricanes, former Luther Burbank High School star D.J. Johnson has been pulling double duties for the Oregon Ducks football team this season.
At 6-foot-4 and 273 pounds, Johnson has been playing both tight end and defensive end for the No. 8 ranked Ducks (4-1, 1-1) in the Pac-12 Conference.
In a 35-28 victory against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Johnson caught a significant 11-yard, first-down pass on the offensive side of the ball to work time off the clock. On the defensive side of the ball, he sacked OSU quarterback C.J. Stroud for 12 yards, which ended the game.
This season is slightly different for Johnson. The catch in the Ohio State game is his only grab of the season and he has only recorded seven total tackles (five solo and two assisted).
He told the Register-Guard that he still does what’s asked of him.
“Whatever the team needs is where I am going to be,” Johnson said.
Johnson was a consensus four-star and top-115 prospect in the 2016 class by ESPN, Rivals, and 247Sports. He was rated a top 10 player in the state of California.
Johnson had 85 total tackles (47 solos), 14.5 sacks, and 31 tackles for loss during his senior season at Luther Burbank High School, during which John Heffernan was his coach.
Johnson chose Miami over Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, California, Clemson, Colorado, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Houston, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Memphis and Michigan.
In his lone season in Miami, Johnson participated in eight games, including the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship game against No. 1 Clemson (Dec. 2, 2017) and the Capital One Orange Bowl against No. 6 Wisconsin (Dec. 30, 2017).
After transferring to Oregon, Johnson sat out the regular season due to transfer rules and was utilized as a redshirt by Oregon. He played his first game as a Duck when he played in the Redbox Bowl at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara against Michigan State due to being enrolled by January 2018.
Johnson played in all seven games for Oregon during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season while making the transition from defensive end to tight end. He caught 10 passes (11.3 yards per catch) for 113 yards and three touchdowns.
The former Titan of LBHS scored a receiving touchdown in each of the first two games of the season.
Against Stanford (on Nov. 7, 2020) Johnson played well in his first outing as a tight end, catching five passes for 55 yards with a 5-yard TD reception. He also helped Oregon repeat as Pac-12 champions with two catches for 27 yards and a 16-yard TD.