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Updates on LaQuan Johnson, Thomas Incoom and more: CMU football notebook


Tight end coach Tavita Thompson poses for a portrait on April 12 in the Indoor Athletic Complex.

LaQuan Johnson's season ended almost as quickly as it started in 2020. 

The sophomore defensive end injured his knee in the second quarter of Central Michigan's season opener against Ohio, forcing him to the sidelines him for the remainder of the season and  the entirety of spring practice. 

According to defensive line coach Justin Hinds, a return is expected fairly soon. 

"I think he should be back to us probably by this summer, rocking and rolling and going" Hinds said. "That's a big piece that we're definitely excited to get back."

Johnson has totaled eight sacks in 17 career games across three years. He broke out in 2019, totaling 13 tackles for loss and six sacks during CMU's Mid-American Conference West Division winning season. 

"It's fun to coach him because he's a guy that's got a lot of just football savvy, number one," Hinds said. "And then he's got a lot, a lot, of just playing with leverage, getting knocked back."

Hinds and tight ends coach Tavita Thompson recently met with the media. Here are some of the other highlights from their press conferences: 

Thomas Incoom's early impact

Having had experience coaching at Valdosta State, Hinds recognized a familiar name when he noticed Thomas Incoom's in the transfer portal. Once a tight end from Atlanta, Georgia, Incoom converted to the defensive line and became a force at the Division II level. 

Incoom became a priority, and eventually the Chippewas landed him. 

“When he did enter the transfer portal, I saw he had nine sacks in that year and knowing the talent in the (Gulf South Conference), I knew that it was very, very comparable,” Hinds said. 

Standing at 6'4 and weighing 240 pounds, Incoom has the size and strength to play at the Division I level. He also fits well at his position, providing depth as Johnson works to get back from injury and incumbent starter Mohamed Diallo entered the transfer portal. 

Hinds also mentioned the character that Income, a Georgia native, brings to the team.

“I saw a guy that can obviously rush the passer at about six-four, two-hundered sixty pounds and you see a guy that’s affecting the quarterback that way, it got me really excited,” Hinds said. “Then, on top of it, you find out he’s a great kid.” 

Cade Cote beginning to develop

A native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Cote was the lone early enrollee in the Chippewas' 2020 recruiting class. He was on campus for the limited spring practice that CMU had last season, did not play in a game last fall and is now getting back into the swing of development. 

"We just expect him to develop and keep getting better," Hinds said. "He's in that developmental role and we need to see what else he has during the summer and the fall to see if he can get and crack into that top five guys as far as the end position goes."

Cote has made the transition from linebacker to defensive line. Whether or not he'll crack the top rotation remains to be seen, but there's certainly promise for Cote's future.

"He's continuing to learn," Hinds said. "Like the first time we got him down there on that sled and we were getting him to go, man, it was like a whole coming to Jesus meeting. He's a guy that's come along there pretty decent."

Davis Heinzen moves to tackle, Mitchel Collier 'Fearless and fun' 

Thompson gave an update on the two new tight ends on campus, freshmen Mitchel Collier and Davis Heinzen. With Heinzen, a 6-foot-5, 240 pounder out of Wisconsin, Thompson and company saw potential for a strong inline blocker and moved him to tackle. 

Collier, meanwhile, has been coined 'Fearless and fun' by Thompson. The Columbus, Indiana native has shown good ability with both route running and catching. 

In his press conference, Thompson also mentioned Joel Wilson and Keegan Cossou, who appears to have finally settled at tight end after jumping from defensive end to tackle and back to tight end during his career, as standouts from early work at the position.