Johnson eagerly anticipates competition for Rams’ QB job

Johnson eagerly anticipates competition for Rams’ QB job
July 30
00:00 2015

In above photo: Redshirt sophomore Justin Johnson figures to face stiff competition in the nine-player battle to become the Rams starting quarterback this fall. (Photo by Craig T. Greenlee)

As things stand now, Justin Johnson is considered the front-runner in what promises to be fierce competition for the starting quarterback job at Winston-Salem State this fall.

He’s the only returning QB with any game experience.

But that’s not the only reason he may have a slight advantage.

Unlike his counterparts, Johnson is the only QB who has any familiarity in running the multiple offense that the Rams ran two years ago.

WSSU switched to the Pistol formation last year, but has opted to return to the multiple look for 2015.

Johnson acknowledged that being familiar with the offense may help his cause to some degree.

But he also realizes that when pre-season practice begins on Aug. 10, there are no guarantees for anyone.

“At this point, I haven’t earned anything,” he said. “Nothing has been settled. I don’t have a starting spot. We have quite a number of talented quarterbacks coming in. So, I’m just looking forward to competing.”

The Rams (9-2 last season) have more than enough worthy candidates on hand, which includes transfers Kevin Sousa (Wake Forest), Reggie Green (Louisville), Calvin Garrett (Houston), Kaylon Cooper (Pearl River Community College), Rod Tinsley (Gardner-Webb) and Datwon Melvin (Yuba College).

Incoming freshmen Antonio Peterkin and Rashaad Cooper are also part of the mix.

In all, nine quarterbacks will contend to be No. 1 by the time the Rams’ season opens at UNC Pembroke on Sept. 3.

A year ago, Johnson was third on the depth chart behind Phillip Sims (Arizona Cardinals free agent) and Rudy Johnson.

Even though playing time was sparse, Johnson learned a few lessons that he believes will help him for the upcoming season.

“Learning from Phillip and Rudy was a great experience,” said Johnson, who played high school ball at High Point Central. “They had such an impact because of their confidence and their ability to keep their cool and take control of the team.”

Entering this season, Johnson is an unknown quantity because of limited playing time.

At 6-feet-3, 200 pounds, he’s sturdy enough to handle the pounding that quarterbacks are exposed to.

Equally important is his ability to make on-target throws.

An added bonus is his break-away speed (runs 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash).

“Justin has so much upside as a pure athlete,” said WSSU quarterbacks coach Jason Mai. “Not only is he straight-line fast, but he’s very explosive when he changes direction. He has tremendous arm strength and has improved his accuracy a great deal.”

Johnson was not available for duty for spring practice because of academic difficulties.

Those issues have been resolved and now he’s eligible and back on track.

Even though he’s had a lengthy layoff, he’s confident that he’ll perform up his capability.

“I’ve gone hard at it since the end of spring,” he said. “With all the drills and the work I’ve put in with the weights, there shouldn’t be any rust. I believe it will all pay off and I’ll be ready to go on Aug. 10.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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