Coach Al Golden’s Miami squad is going to need all the firepower it can muster if it is going to make a run at an ACC title and a BCS bowl berth in 2013. The Canes should be able to play in the postseason following two years of voluntary sanctions in response to booster Nevin Shapiro’s payments of student-athletes.
However, Eddie Johnson, the team’s starting strongside linebacker and fourth-leading tackler as a redshirt freshman, is not with the team currently, and may not be back at all.
The Hurricanes fourth leading tackler is not currently enrolled, a school official confirmed to the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday evening. As reported by multiple news outlets, his name no longer appears on the online roster posted on the official athletic website.
Johnson enjoyed a breakout season at linebacker in 2012, but it didn’t end well. He was suspended for Miami’s last-second loss at Virginia was struggled down the stretch.
He made five stops against USF the next week, but was out again for the finale at Duke. In all, Johnson started eight of the 10 games he played in his only Miami season.
According to the Miami Herald, Johnson has been suspended indefinitely. Golden chose not to elaborate any further on Johnson, but defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio was blunt:
“We can’t have immaturity. We can’t have guys going into their second and third year not acting and not playing like veterans.”
Again, Johnson finished fourth on the team in tackles, with 59 on the year. His 7.5 tackles for a loss were the most on the squad in 2012, despite having missed games. The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Atlanta native also forced three fumbles.
Should Johnson get his act together — this sounds like something that can easily be remedied by a renewed commitment to the sport by the talented linebacker — he will be expected to start alongside Denzel Perryman and Jimmy Gaines. However, that may not be a possibility. In the case that Johnson is not back in Coral Gables and playing, D’Onofrio also is excited about Raphael Kirby and believes Devante Bond, who had 17 sacks in junior college last season, is ready to play.
Tyrone Cornelius, Gabe Terry, freshman Jermaine Grace may all also see the playing field as they offer depth to the program.