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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Dennis Johnson, DT, Grand Valley State

Dennis Johnson
Dennis Johnson shows a lot of power and grit on Grand Valley State’s defensive line. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Dennis Johnson
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 310 lbs
  • Position: DT
  • College: Grand Valley State University
  • Twitter: @Datboi_Dennis
  • Instagram: dennis.66

What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
I have a double major in Sports Management and Marketing. I’d like to work some day in the front office for a team or sports marketing agency. I plan on being involved in the clubs available within my majors. Every year, our team participates in many different community outreach projects. One of the projects that I’ve been part of is through Young Life Camp where I help with some of the landscaping of their grounds.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
I think they would say my get-off and hand placement. As a teammate, I know the playbook very well and know where I need to be on any given play.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
I am a lead by example kind of guy, although I can be vocal when needed. I can direct players in the right way

I can be in every down packages. I can be a run stopper as well as put some pressure on the QB. As a DT, I’ve played the nose and 3-tech position. I have a little bit of versatility.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
The best overall line that I’ve faced is definitely Ferris State. They have a solid offense. Dylan Pasquali and Jake Boonstra do a great job. The best OL that I’ve faced would have to be Edinboro’s Vitaliy Gurman.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
Tyler Bradfield. He has a great motor. He’s also one of the smartest people on the field at any given time. He excels on and off the field and is an exceptional leader.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
My redshirt sophomore year I came in with high expectations, but I didn’t have the best camp and couldn’t get in on the rotation. I just didn’t play much. That off-season, I decided to work harder than I ever had before. I was working out at least 2-times a day with John Hughes who’s played for both the Browns and Bengals. I won the starting job at the beginning of the season and eventually earned first team all-conference in 2019.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
I would be a thrower in track & field. I didn’t participate in track in high school, but I definitely would have done that or wrestling in high school if I hadn’t played football. My father was a thrower in high school, and I would have tried to follow in his footsteps.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
Honestly, I am most proud of having the opportunity to play in college. I feel like I’ve worked hard to be in the position that I’m at.

I would have to say that my biggest achievement was being voted Defensive Lineman of the Year at Grand Valley State. I’m truly honored to have earned the respect of my teammates.

Check out NFL Draft Diamonds 2021 Small School Rankings

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
The second game of the year against Delta State, they had a 4th and goal. We were in a must stop situation to keep them from scoring. I was able to tackle the ball carrier behind the line, and we eventually went on to win that game.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
I’ve always been a Chicago Bears fan and used to love watching Devin Hester play. Nowadays my favorite player to watch is Aaron Donald. He’s just a freak of nature and really one of the best players in today’s game.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
I’d say some of my favorites are Kendrick Lamar and Drake, but before games I’m usually listening to 90’s rap and hip hop like Public Enemy, Wu Tang Clan and Tupac.

What is your favorite comfort food?
I’m a huge pizza guy. I’ve been trying out a lot of local places during quarantine. My favorite right now would be Vitalli’s here in Grand Rapids.

Do you have a favorite movie or actor?
A Bronx Tale is one of my favorite movies, also the movie Prisoners with Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
In my free time, I like to listen to music. I have a small record collection that I’ve been working on. I’ll also play Madden whenever I have the time.

Who or what motivates you the most?
My dad. He’s always been there for me since the beginning and has believed in the player that I can become. He’s always given me great advice. I always want my family to be proud of the man they have raised. 

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