In his first collegiate game in 2011 against Iowa State, Johnson, who also registered all-state and all-conference awards for the River Kings, made a statement, scoring two touchdowns, including an 80-yard touchdown reception, during a 20-19 loss.
Not to be outdone, Johnson continued his success against FBS teams last year, during games against Wisconsin and Iowa. Against the Big-10 champion Badgers, Johnson caught four passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns, in another near-upset, this time a 26-21 setback.
Johnson added 154 total yards and one touchdown to his resume against the Hawkeyes last year, in a 27-16 loss.
Performances like those are one of the reasons why Johnson’s name is on the tip of every FCS preseason prognosticator’s tongue.
But the hype won’t bother Johnson, especially now that school is session.
“It was a little hard in the summer not to look at all that stuff, but now that school is going, it keeps me busy, so I’m not paying attention to those things,” Johnson said.
Johnson is listed on the Running Back, All-Purpose Performer and Walter Payton awards watch lists, is a preseason third-team All-America selection, and a preseason All-Missouri Valley selection.
That goes along with the awards he already has won, including being elected to the All-Missouri Valley team during the past two seasons.
But Krick isn’t worried about Johnson’s accolades. He’s more concerned with how to tackle the all-purpose back.
“He’s a tough guy to bring down,” Krick said. “He’s very shifty, knows his reads and is good at making people miss. We’ll get his best every snap.”
Although the two practiced together on a high school team that went undefeated during the regular season in 2009 and made it to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, this may be the first time they meet head-to-head on a football field on opposing sides.