The New England Patriots drew the assignment of tight end Jakob Johnson on Monday.
And, as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, the native of Stuttgart, Germany will be assigned to the 2019 practice squad as an 11th man in the event he misses the roster cutdown on Aug. 31.
There’s some incubation time between now and then.
But let’s clean out the notebook on the University of Tennessee product, who spent this past season with the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League and will join a Patriots depth chart featuring Matt LaCosse, Jacob Hollister, Stephen Anderson and Ryan Izzo.
1. Johnson, who moved to the United States in 2012, played one season of high school football at Jean Ribault in Jacksonville, Fla. There the inside linebacker would amass 112 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and six sacks on the way to being ranked a three-star composite recruit by 247Sports.
2. As a freshman at Tennessee in 2014, Johnson appeared in a dozen games and notched 14 tackles. He started versus Missouri and Vanderbilt. “It is very impressive,” then-head coach Butch Jones told reporters of Johnson’s role that November. “Again, and I spoke about it in the press conference, here is a young man who is a true freshman but really maybe a high school senior because he has been in Germany.”
3. During preseason camp in 2015, Johnson moved from linebacker to tight end for the Volunteers. “He has done a really good job as far as not playing the position before,” Jones said a press conference that August. “Jakob possesses very good balance, he has very good leverage, he’s very explosive, and he has the want-to. He wants to learn how to do it. And the way I look at it, when you make a positional change, he has no bad habits. So you get a chance to build him from ground zero, you get a chance to mold him and build him up. And he’s done a very good job with it. He’s embraced it like we knew Jakob would. And I can see him getting better every day.”
4. That ensuing campaign, Johnson went on to check into all 13 contests on special teams for Tennessee. And that is where, in an October meeting with Georgia, he’d force a fumble on a kickoff return with a minute to go before halftime. The returner? An eventual Patriots first-round running back in Sony Michel. Tennessee recovered.
5. Johnson caught his first two collegiate passes versus Tennessee Tech as a junior in 2016, gaining 10 yards. He returned a pair of kicks that season, as well, and registered tackles against Appalachian State, Virginia Tech and South Carolina.
6. During his senior season of 2017, Johnson caught one pass for 13 yards versus Indiana State. The converted tight end would also start on offense versus Southern Miss. Johnson finished his collegiate career with three receptions for 23 yards and 22 tackles. An injury would later cost him his Tennessee pro day.
7. Johnson’s time in Knoxville overlapped with a couple prospects who’d go on to stop by Foxborough in cornerback Justin Coleman and defensive end Corey Vereen. Coleman now resides with the Detroit Lions, while Vereen was last with the Alliance of American Football’s Memphis Express.
8. While in the German Football League last season, the 24-year-old Johnson tallied 43 receptions for 474 yards and four touchdowns, along with a dozen tackles.
9. In an interview with the GFL in January, Johnson, who’s also logged snaps at fullback, was asked whether he has a role model in the NFL. “In the position of fullback,” he said, “I enjoyed the physically intense style of the now-retired Vontae Leach.”
10. Johnson was one of eight players to participate in the NFL’s international pro day on April 1 in Tampa, alongside Australia’s Valentine Holmes, Mexico’s Maximo Sanchez, Brazil’s Durval Neto, England’s Christian Wade and Alex Jenkins, as well as fellow Germans Moubarak Djeri and David Bada. Johnson’s recent Germany-to-Patriots predecessors include offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn.