Melvin Johnson, a defensive lineman out of Canyon Springs High School (North Las Vegas, NV), has committed to the UNLV Rebels, giving head coach Tony Sanchez his first commitment since taking over the program in December. Johnson held just one other scholarship offer (Weber State), but had received interest from Colorado State and Nevada.
You can check out Johnson's hudl highlights below:
Before we go into too much analysis, I just want to highlight the play at the 1:10 mark, when the behemoth of a quarterback (wildcat?) tries to blast up the middle and Johnson wrecks him. Okay, let's move on.
As a defensive lineman, Johnson comes with a heavy list of pros and cons. His focus and ability to keep his eye on the ball–even while he is heavily-engaged–is impressive. You'll find plenty of instances in the highlight reel where Johnson is initially swallowed by blockers, only to shoot across the line of scrimmage and seal a hole or trip up the ball carrier moments later. He possesses decent handwork when fighting off linemen, as well, allowing himself room to make plays on the ball when the play comes his way. There's also a natural instinct and feel for what the offensive is trying to do, which consistently leads him to the football. Add all that to what seems to be a sure tackler, and you have yourself a decent lineman on your hands.
There's a lot of Johnson's game that still needs work, however. He lacks consistent explosiveness and as a result doesn't find himself in the backfield nearly as often as he probably should. His strength isn't anything more than above average at the high school level, and will need improvement before he can succeed at UNLV. He is a bit of a tweener at this point in his career, as well–too small to be a defensive tackle, too slow to be a defensive end. If the Rebels can get him to squeeze every drop of athleticism out of his 6'4", 240-pound frame, a lot of these problems should fix themselves.
Overall, this isn't the kind of signing that will have UNLV fans running up and down the streets screaming happy obscenities about football, but it is a decent signing for the beginning of the Sanchez era: a local kid who probably has more potential than most scouting databases give him credit for.