Iowa State’s defensive line has improved dramatically under Matt Campbell behind the anchors of Ray Lima and Jamahl Johnson in the middle of the line, as well JaQuan Bailey and a handful of other solid defensive ends. However, as the first group of seniors departs from Campbell’s program, the staff is looking to bolster depth with young, coachable talent.
Iowa State offered the strong side defensive end, Johnny Wilson way back in April of 2018. After that, Wilson would rack up offers from Arkansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. Wilson would also go on unofficial visits to both Kansas and Missouri before committing in the summer and signing this past December.
Johnny Wilson is a very well-rounded defensive end. He’s versatile enough to play inside, which he did some in high school. In order for that to happen I’d expect him to put on some weight as he’s currently 6’3, 250. He has good hands, and a knack for finding the ball.
What would really set Wilson apart is if he continues to improve in explosiveness. He’s not lacking it by any means for a high school recruit, but to really set himself apart at the college level, that’s where he could do it.
Although this isn’t a designed misdirection, Wilson does a great job of reading the cutback and avoiding what might be the worst chop block in history, then wrapping up the ball-carrier for a loss.
Besides an unfortunate appearance by the goal post here, Wilson has clips up and down in his senior highlights that highlight his motor. Here’s a great example of one where he chases down the running back after biting on the QB keeper initially.
I was surprised that more teams didn’t try to double team him in high school. Wilson throws away that right tackle like a paper plate. Great work with his hands, strength, and block shedding.
I mentioned him earlier, but I was blown away by Zach Peterson this year. He just had a great feel for where the ball was going to be, and the motor to make the hustle plays and chase ball-carriers sideline to sideline. I don’t think Wilson will ever be a lethal sack machine, but he has lots of versatility, and can be a good run stopper at the Big 12 level.
I think Wilson could end up a lot of different places. I’m not sure if he has the speed or the pass coverage to play outside linebacker, but I could see him bulking up and playing anywhere on the defensive line. He’s not an elite pass rusher, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to plug him in at defensive tackle.
While he’s not an elite pass rusher right now, Wilson has the potential to be an effective run stopper anywhere along the defensive line once he’s had a chance to develop his body and likely put on some weight. Fortunately, Iowa State’s defense has made hay on exactly that type of player.