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Thursday, May 17, 2018

He’s a big boy now’: Kansas LB Kyron Johnson preparing for larger role

Kansas linebacker Kyron Johnson (9) runs in as safety Bryce Torneden (11) brings down running back Kezelee Flomo during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. Also pictured is Kansas offensive lineman Clyde McCauley III.

Kansas linebacker Kyron Johnson (9) runs in as safety Bryce Torneden (11) brings down running back Kezelee Flomo during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. Also pictured is Kansas offensive lineman Clyde McCauley III.

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When Kyron Johnson first arrived at the University of Kansas for the 2017 spring semester, his fellow linebackers, as well as members of the coaching staff, raved about his speed.

However, qualifications accompanied each instance of praise. Johnson, teammates and staffers would tell you at the time, needed to add some weight to his 6-foot-1 frame. Plus, due to a lack of college-level experience, he didn’t exactly know what he was doing yet.

A year later, the Arlington, Texas, native has a full season and two years of spring football behind him. The official KU roster lists Johnson at 220 pounds, up 10 from his weight as an early high school graduate. But redshirt senior linebacker Joe Dineen thinks Johnson looks and plays as if he’s added 20 to 25 pounds since joining the program in January of 2017.

“He’s a big boy now,” Dineen said of Johnson’s transformation ahead of his sophomore season. “And he can still run. I think what they’re having him do this year is going to utilize his talent a lot. He’s gonna get after the passer and he’s gonna make a lot of plays in the backfield.”

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Kansas linebacker Kyron Johnson (9) and two other defenders chase after Southeast Missouri running back Marquis Terry (3) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

The Jayhawks only caught glimpses of Johnson’s potential during his true freshman season. A three-star prospect in high school according to Rivals, he appeared in all 12 games in 2017, making 17 total tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. Late in the year, at Texas, he recorded two solo tackles and forced a fumble on special teams.

KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said during Johnson’s debut year Johnson looked the part of someone who could one day effectively play weak-side linebacker in the Big 12.

“He’s such a good kid. Smart kid and really into it,” Bowen said. “He has unbelievable physical skills. In time he’s going to be good.”

KU certainly would prefer Johnson begins making a noticeable impact this coming fall. During spring practices coaches deployed Johnson as a bit of a hybrid linebacker and defensive end at times, lining him up on the edge.

Dineen said Johnson practiced with both defensive linemen and linebackers during the 15-session offseason practice schedule.

“And I think that’ll be beneficial for him as a player to get a little bit of both,” Dineen said. “He does pass-rush drills and he does linebacker drills. It takes a special kind of player to be able to do both, and he’s really doing a good job with that.”

Comments

Dirk Medema 1 month, 4 weeks ago

IIRC he's got crazy speed for a LB. It could really help if he can provide a freshman to sophomore jump in impact.

Bryson Stricker 1 month, 4 weeks ago

(y).

Quality article about someone that many people actually continually forget to mention. Hopefully with a multiple defensive set approach this year, we will find the RIGHT times to utilize Kyron this year. Last year we had him dropping into pass coverage too many times and that is not his specialty.

John Brazelton 1 month, 4 weeks ago

We got a number of talented football players. Hopefully we can get them to come together at the same time. This season will still depend upon the offensive line reaching its potential this year.

Mike Bennett 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Every time I read an article on how good a KU player is, I have to ask myself, "good for us or good enough to be a starter at OU, TX, OSU...". Time will tell.

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