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Arizona State safety James Johnson (18) during an NCAA college football game against Arizona, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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James Johnson announces transfer from Arizona State

Arizona State safety James Johnson (18) during an NCAA college football game against Arizona, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

If there’s an area of Arizona State’s football team that needs vast improvement, it’s the defensive secondary.

The Sun Devils ranked near the bottom of the national rankings in pass defense last season, so the 2017 recruiting class was heavy on defensive backs.

ASU will be without an experienced player next year, however. Senior-to-be James Johnson has announced his intention to transfer to another school following his graduation in May, eschewing his remaining year of eligibility in Tempe.

Johnson came to Arizona State as part of Todd Graham’s 2013 recruiting class, but redshirted that season. He played extensively as a redshirt freshman in 2014, registering 25 tackles. His playing time dropped off in 2015, and last year, the 6-foot-1, 204-pound Johnson saw action in only one game. He had two tackles and a pass breakup in ASU’s season-ending loss to Arizona.

As a player who has earned a degree, Johnson would be immediately eligible to compete for another FBS program in 2017.

Johnson is the second player in as many weeks to announce a graduate transfer, joining wide receiver Ellis Jefferson.

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