The University of Miami football team on Tuesday announced the departure of its fourth defensive player since the Hurricanes played in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Saturday night.
“Defensive lineman [Deonte] DJ Johnson has decided to leave the football program,’’ the Hurricanes said in a written statement.
“DJ indicated to me that he would like to continue his playing career closer to his family,’’ head coach Mark Richt said.
True freshman Johnson, one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation when he signed with Miami in February 2017, was a 6-5, 240-pound, four-star prospect who played in eight games this season, mostly on special teams, and finished with three tackles.
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Johnson, from Sacramento, California, posted on Twitter the following message: “Loved miami, close family members going through severe health issues. Thank you to the miami fan base and staff for embracing me and giving me some great memories and molding me as a better player and growing man. God bless.”
Also leaving the Hurricanes since the Orange Bowl, in which Wisconsin defeated UM 34-24, linebacker Darrion Owens, defensive lineman Ryan Fines — both of whom plan to transfer — and linebacker Jamie Gordinier, who announced he will leave the sport after multiple reconstructive knee surgeries.
Owens, from Orange Park, has graduated and can play immediately, per the NCAA graduate transfer rules. He played in all 13 games this past season and had 35 tackles, including 4.5 for loss.
“Darrion has been a great representative of our program,’’ Richt said in a statement. “We appreciate all the hard work he has put in and we wish him all the best in his future plans.’’
Regarding Fines, a 6-2, 300-pound redshirt sophomore scheduled to graduate in the spring, Richt said, “Ryan and I talked, and he feels his best opportunity to get the most playing time would be at another school.’’ Fines, from Bradenton, played in two games this season and had one tackle and a fumble recovery.
With senior defensive ends Chad Thomas and Trent Harris leaving, as well as senior D-lineman Anthony Moten, the Canes need to replenish the cupboard. They recently signed 6-6 1/2 Greg Rousseau on Dec. 20, the only defensive lineman among the 19 players who signed early.
The traditional signing period for football, in which the Canes can sign the rest of their incoming class, begins Feb. 7.