Johnson fights for playing time at FB

Johnson fights for playing time at FB

ATHENS – Its not that other Bulldogs don't deserve their scholarships, but former walk-on Jason Johnson might be the Dawg who has most earned his. Following in the tradition of other fullbacks Verron Haynes, J.T. Wall and Jeremy Thomas, Johnson got his scholarship the hard way – by walking on.

In the spring of 2003, no one in the media knew about Johnson, but since that year's G-Day game, head coach Mark Richt has been excited about him. He was giddy about him after his performance in 2004's G-Day game where he rushed seven times for 30 yards. Since that time, Richt said he has been pleased with Johnson's effort.

"We are just real pleased with the way he gets things done. He's tough and knows what to do," said Richt of Johnson.

Johnson then got the scout team award that fall by helping that group prepare the Dawgs for a 10-2 run and another top-ten finish. He was given the Biggest Hit of the Spring Award in the spring of 2005, and was named the Outstanding Offensive Walk-On as well. 2006 Spring Awards.

"He's been flying under the radar," said tailback Thomas Brown. "He came in as a walk-on and not that many people knew much about him. But he comes in and gives everything he's got every day.

Now Johnson could make an impact at Sanford Stadium when the temperatures cool down. He's currently behind returning starter Brannon Southerland, and listed as co-backup fullback with Des Williams. All three will be used on special teams, but it's Johnson's relentlessness, perhaps with a little help from the injury that sidelined Williams last fall, that has got him fighting for the backup spot.

"The competition had been so far," he said. "We are challenging ourselves. Coach Richt and Coach Ball have told us not to compete against each other, but compete with each other. We are out here trying to help each other get better."

As if Johnson's work in Athens was not good enough, there are also his impressive high school stats from his time at Dunbar Academy in Chicago. As a senior Johnson rushed for 2,042 yards and 28 touchdowns in guiding his team to the city title.

The duly nicknamed "Chi-town" is now ready to make the jump from spring football legend to fulltime player this season.

"I am just trying to keep the ball rolling," Johnson said of his impressive spring. "In the spring game I worked both fullback and tailback – mostly tailback. Coach Ball told me if I wanted to play that I should think about switching to fullback full time.

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