College Miami Hurricanes

Johnson, Owens Leaving Miami Hurricanes Program

The University of Miami’s defense took two more hits this week as the school announced that linebacker Darrion Owens and defensive end D.J. Johnson have decided to leave the program.

The news of Owens and Johnson leaving comes days after the school announced that defensive lineman Ryan Fines was leaving the program.

Canes head coach Mark Richt made a statement regarding Owens.

“Darrion and I talked, and he informed me that he feels his best opportunity to get the most playing time would be at another school,” Richt said. “Darrion has been a great representative of our program. We appreciate all the hard work he has put in and we wish him all the best in his future plans.”

Owens, a redshirt junior, played in all 13 games for the Hurricanes in 2017 and recorded 35 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Orange Park Oakleaf High alum was a solid rotational linebacker for Manny Diaz’s defense and – as any fan would hope – the upperclassmen had two of his better statistical games towards the end of the season, totaling 15 of his 35 total tackles against Clemson and Wisconsin.

Owens, who was among the 12 Hurricanes football players to graduate this past December, said he’s looking towards the future.

“I would like to thank Coach Richt, the coaching staff, my teammates and all of the Hurricane fans for their support,” Owens said. “I’m proud to have earned my degree from the University of Miami and I look forward to this next chapter in my football career.”

Losing Owens stings because he was a solid program veteran, but seeing Johnson walk out of the door – without ever living up to the expectations that were attached to him – is a bit of a “gut punch”.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound former four-star prospect played in just eight games for the Hurricanes this season – recording just three tackles.

Unfortunately, Johnson cited personal family issues were the chief issue behind his decision to leave Miami.

Johnson, a Sacramento California native, has indicated that the next school he plans on attending will be on the west coast – closer to his family.

“DJ indicated to me that he would like to continue his playing career closer to his family,” Richt said.

The school granted Johnson conditional release, listing a number of schools in which he’s allowed to transfer to.

Losing Johnson to transfer – coupled with the loss of senior defensive ends Chad Thomas and Trent Harris – creates a dearth of quality depth for the Canes on the edges of their defensive line.

Remaining – and the perceived incumbent 2018 starters – at defensive end will be Joe Jackson, who had 6.5 sacks in 2017, and Jonathan Garvin, who recorded two sacks; two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a freshman.

Beyond that, the Hurricanes will have Demetrius Jackson returning from a knee injury; Pat Bethel and sparsely-used Scott Patchan.

Miami had one defensive end prospect sign during the early signing period – Hialeah Champagnat 6-foot-6, 220-pound defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau – and will likely target more edge rushers leading up to February’s National Signing Day.

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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