5 Transfer Portal Landing Spots for Ricky Johnson: Arizona, Texas Tech Make Sense for UNLV DB

After helping the UNLV Rebels to their best record since 1984, DB Ricky Johnson has entered the transfer portal. What are his top landing spots?

Under first-year head coach Barry Odom, the UNLV Rebels produced their best record (9-5) in nearly 40 years, made the Mountain West Championship, and played in their first bowl game since 2013. But coming off that success, there’s been a bit of an exodus from Las Vegas.

The Rebels lost former four-star recruit defensive end Zavier Carter to UCF and safety Jordyn Morgan to Louisiana Tech, and safety Jerrae Williams and edge rusher LeShaun Bell are in the portal. Add DB Ricky Johnson to that list, as he is entering the transfer portal with two years of eligibility remaining.

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Landing Spots for Ricky Johnson

Johnson announced the move on X (formerly Twitter) on March 1, though reports surfaced earlier in the week.

Coming out of Houston, Texas, Johnson was a three-star recruit in the class of 2020. He originally committed to UTEP before flipping to UNLV a month later, also receiving offers from Louisiana Tech, Air Force, and Utah State.

In 12 appearances in 2023, Johnson recorded 36 tackles (three for a loss) and seven passes defended. Three of his four career interceptions came in 2021 (two against Hawaii), as he missed most of the 2022 season due to injury.

Listed at 6’1″ and 180 pounds, with nearly 1,000 defensive and 200 special teams snaps under his belt, Johnson shouldn’t lack suitors. Prior to manning the outside corner spot for the Rebels, the Texas native earned all-district honors at safety and wide receiver in high school, even running the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles and competing in the high and triple jump for the track team.

Arizona Wildcats

Tacario Davis, Jordan Shaw, Ephesians Prysock, Manny Moss, and Canyon Moses are all out the door for the Wildcats. Who have they added to replace them? Tennessee DB Jack Luttrell. Suffice it to say, Arizona needed secondary help yesterday.

Johnson has the size profile to play on the boundary, but with strong tackling and run-defense skills, he could fill a slot/safety role as well.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech recruited Johnson out of high school but did not offer a scholarship. Could they rectify that decision in the twilight of his collegiate career? Of the six DBs who played 400+ snaps, they are only returning two, with Tyler Owens, Malik Dunlap, Rayshad Williams, and Dadrion Taylor-Demerson declaring for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Johnson would join the University of Guelph in Canada safety Devynn Cromwell as veteran transfers with experience at multiple secondary positions.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

LA Tech already landed one UNLV DB in safety Jordyn Morgan, and their only movement at the CB position was earning a commitment from Central Oklahoma’s Emmonte Davis.

In fact, of the Bulldogs’ three starting CBs last season, they only returned Cedric Woods, who allowed the most touchdowns on the team at four. Johnson’s length and physical play would put less pressure on the safeties over the top.

Utah State Aggies

In-conference transfers happen frequently, as both the player and team have intimate knowledge of the other. Utah State is coming off back-to-back 6-7 campaigns, but just two years ago, they went 11-3 under head coach Blake Anderson.

The Aggies are returning most of their defensive backfield, but in this case, continuity isn’t a strength. The CB room alone allowed 12 TDs to zero INTs — not great. A change of scenery could prove to be beneficial for both parties.

Grambling State Tigers

Two Rebels have transferred to HBCU programs this offseason, with RB Courtney Reese moving to Bethune-Cookman and WR Jordan Jakes joining Delaware State. Could Johnson be a third?

Grambling State offered him as a recruit, and with Mickey Joseph as the new head coach, the time is now for the Tigers to prove their mettle. Joseph also announced the hiring of Del Lee-Collins as CBs coach, which should be a large draw for Johnson.

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Lee-Collins maximized the talents of his corners at Southeastern Louisiana, with both of his starting cornerbacks earning first-team All-Southland Conference honors in 2022.

Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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