By Shaun DePasquale (@FCSScout)
Everyone is looking for the next Pierre Desir. The Next Josh Norman. That small school defensive back that rises up and becomes a high draft pick. This year, for the 2015 class of rookies, you may find that guy in the most unlikely of places- overlooked HBCU program Fayetteville State. His name is Michael Johnson. The name might be ordinary, but the player isn’t. Listed at 6’2 and just under 200 pounds, Johnson has established himself as an NFL prospect with 9 interceptions over the last 2 seasons for the Broncos of the CIAA. Johnson is a native of Clayton, North Carolina whom has played the sport since the age of 4, with the support of his father.
“Growing up I had a great support system but when it came to getting involved in sports my Dad guided me into loving the game of football. The NFL has been my dream for as long as I can remember. I fell in love with the game of football at a very young age and I always dedicated my craft to it as well.” explained Johnson
Johnson began his career at Clayton High School, playing running back and safety. As a sophomore, Johnson began to buckle down and dedicate himself to the sport, both on and off the field. His goal was to make varsity as a sophomore. As usual, Johnson exceeded expectations. He not only made the varsity squad, but he earned the starting free safety position. He totaled 72 tackles and 3 interceptions that year. The following season, he added 86 tackles and 4 interceptions, helping the Clayton Comets into the state playoffs. Going into his senior season, Johnson decided to transfer to Cary (NC) High School, in an attempt to draw more exposure to himself.
“My senior season was sort of a struggle because I had a baby girl, and I must say she’s the person who makes me strive for greatness and also inspires me. My grades were slipping so when D1 teams looked at my play they were all in, but when they saw my academics they pulled back and that cost me a lot of scholarship offers.”
Johnson’s senior year did go according to plan. He attained All-State status, made All-Conference, becoming one of few players to ever earn AC honors in two seperate conferences. When it came down to making a choice in colleges, Johnson opted for Fayetteville State, because of their Criminal Justice program. As a true freshman, Johnson had to do something he was not accustomed to doing- sit and watch.
“I must admit, it didn’t feel right not playing a lot my freshman year. But that was just extra motivation going into my sophomore season. That summer I busted my tail every single day, whether it meant lifting weights, conditioning or just studying film.”
Johnson indeed came out as a sophomore and enjoyed a coming out party with 93 tackles, 4 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. He earned Lindy’s 1st Team Division II All American honors. Justifiably, Johnson earned a ton of hype heading into his junior season. He did not disappoint. Johnson followed up with 65 tackles and 5 interceptions. One again, he was named a Division II All American. Heading into his senior season, Johnson’s goal is a CIAA championship, and making a strong push for the NFL.
“All I can think about is Fayetteville State bringing back the CIAA Championship, where it belongs. I’ve always been the type of person that believes that it’s not whether you’re the most athletic or the strongest, but if you work hard, it will pay off! Keeping God first in everything that you do will make everything fall into place. Also, with a great family, my biggest support system, pushes me even harder to take this goal of mine to one day play in the National Football League.”
Michael is also eager to share his experiences and message with the youth.
“I can’t wait to tell my story in the future to the youth, that it’s not how you start, but how you finish. And to show people that I’m a prime example of someone who’s been through the struggle and dealt with real life at a young age. A lady once told me “don’t ever dream because dreams are stars that you can’t reach, but have goals and set them high, because goals are what you’re set out to do.”
Prepared to follow in the footsteps of Pierre Desir, Michael Johnson is a top prospect from the small school to keep an eye on.Do you follow the NFL Draft? If so follow NFL Draft Diamonds on Twitter and Facebook for up to date NFL Draft News, NFL Draft Projections, and NFL Draft Rankings. Jesus is the only way to Salvation