Jaleel Making Grade

Jaleel Making Grade

Jaleel Johnson likely will come to Iowa this summer with a chance to make an impact as a true freshman. The defensive tackle from the Chicago area spoke with Hawkeye Insider about his expectations for Year 1, his academic progress and more.

Jaleel Johnson created some unrest in the Hawkeye fan base early this spring. He tweeted that he needed two more points on his standardized test to make it into Iowa academically.

The Class of 2012 defensive tackle tweeted a few weeks later that he had been accepted into Iowa. And while the deal hasn't been sealed, it appeared Johnson has put himself further into position to make into the Big Ten university.

"Absolutely," he said. "I took the ACT about a month ago. I scored an 18 on that.

"As of right now, I have Bs and one A. I'm taking an extra class. I've maintained an A in that. All I have to do is have an A in one of my English classes after finals and the rest Bs and I'll be good."

Johnson said he does not plan to retake the ACT next month.

In addition to being one of the top recruits in the incoming Hawkeye recruiting class, Johnson plays at a position of need.

"Basically, what Coach (Kirk) Ferentz has told me is that playing time for me is realistic," the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder said. "The only thing I have to do is go there and prove myself that I can play at that level. I feel like I can go in and contribute early. I kind of have a feeling that I will be rotating in and getting some playing time."

Three Iowa defensive tackles - Christian Ballard, Karl Klug and Mike Daniels - have been selected in the last two NFL drafts.

Johnson is debating on whether to arrive at Iowa for voluntary summer workouts in early June or wait until July.

"It's kind of a back-and-forth thing," he said. "I talked to the coaches a while back and they didn't think I'd be too far behind if I waited. I'm actually in between on that decision right now. I'm going to call the coaches and see what they think about it now."

Johnson said he's been working on agility and has been in the weight room daily this spring. He played his senior season at Montini Catholic in Lombard, IL at 330 pounds. He's gotten down to 315.

"I feel like I'm able to move at this weight," Johnson said. "Being able to lose 15 pounds does help a lot. I'm hoping to lose another 10 pounds going into camp."

Defensive tackle at Iowa requires strength and skill. The two-gap system is not for the weak.

"What the coaches have told me is that they prefer me at a three technique or a zero, which is over the center," Johnson said. "Either way, I'm fine with that. I've been told that the next level is tough. But if I do what i'm supposed to do and just keep working hard, I'll be fine."

When Johnson verbally committed to Iowa last summer, Rick Kaczenski was the defensive line coach. He left for Nebraska and Ferentz moved veteran coach Reese Morgan from the offensive to the defensive line this offseason.

"I'm excited to work with Coach Morgan," Johnson said. "He's a great coach. I think it will benefit the D-Line having someone that's been an offensive line coach. He can teach us some of the weakness of the offensive line."

Johnson plans to major in Criminal Justice at Iowa.

"It runs through my family," he said. "I have an uncle who is a detective. My grandfather used to be a cop in New York City. I'm really looking forward to learning more about it.

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