VAUGHT: Is it time to move Johnson to DE?

VAUGHT: Is it time to move Johnson to DE?

It's time for Micah Johnson to walk the walk and stop just the talk. Johnson came to Kentucky as Rich Brooks' most highly touted recruit last year. While he started games early in the season and played all year, he was never a big-play producer. Unless something changes, he won't be this year, either.

He's not going to beat out Braxton Kelley for the starting job at middle linebacker. Kelley is more experienced, has better instincts, practices harder and plays more reckless.

Johnson has lost weight to help his quickness. He's down to about 250 pounds and looks more like a linebacker.

However, he missed part of spring practice for academic reasons and has to learn to be more dependable in the classroom to completely earn Brooks' trust.

No one can question his skills. He can run. He is strong. He's explosive.

Bottom line, he's too good to be standing on the sideline watching Kelley play this year. That's why barring an injury to Kelley or a sudden transformation by Johnson, it's time for him to consider making the move to defensive end.

One former UK player thinks that would help Johnson and the team.

"He just does not think as quick as it takes to read plays at linebacker. He needs to be where he can just attack guys and use his great physical skills. He's so strong and powerful. He can be a man among boys, but not when he has to stop, think and then react," the player said. "To be a great linebacker, it has to be instinctive like it is to Braxton. Micah is not there yet. That's why to me, he needs to be on the front line just attacking gaps and knocking people down."

Former defensive coordinator Mike Archer felt the same way by the end of last year. Brooks and Johnson didn't agree.

Johnson spent spring practice at linebacker. He will go into the season as a middle linebacker. But if he's as good as I think he can be and others think he can be, he needs to be on the field and today the best way to get him on the field the most seems to be using him on the defensive line and not at linebacker.

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