West Forsyth’s dynamic duo

Jevante Long and Nasion Johnson Jr.

West Forsyth’s dynamic duo
April 14
13:00 2021

The West Forsyth football team has seen their share of talented running backs over the years and this season is no different. The combination of Jevante Long and Nasion Johnson Jr. have carried on that tradition after the graduation of G’mone Wilson and Zy Dillard.

“I told people last year, G’mone and Zy were really good for us last year, but we didn’t miss a beat with Jevante and Nasion,” said Lawrence Ferguson, West Forsyth running back coach. “They (Long and Johnson) are 1A and 1B and right up there at the top with those two guys.

“We have a strong tradition of running backs at West, dating back to the late 80s and early 90s when I did some research when I first came to West. Those guys are right up there at the top, especially as a duo.

The pair have been buddies for five years and their friendship extends on and off the field. That connection has allowed the two backs to become the best duo in Forsyth County. They bring different things to the Titan running game which is exactly what a coach would want from a running back by committee backfield.

“For me, I think it’s about how quick I am and how I can make moves once I get out of the backfield,” said Long on what makes him such a dynamic back.

“I think it’s my speed and my strength, because when I’m out, I’m out and no one is catching me,” Johnson added when asked the same question.

Long has always been a running back since he began playing youth football; however, Johnson has played other positions and excels in the slot, as well as in the backfield.  

With so much talent between the two running backs, one would assume that there is a battle for carries. When it comes to Johnson and Long, they actually don’t mind sharing carries with one another, because they want each other to succeed so much.

“I like sharing the backfield because if you go for a long run and you need a break, another one of us can come in so we don’t get fatigued,” Long stated.  

Both Johnson and Long say they don’t compete with one another on the field. Their goal during practice and every game is to help one another get better to put the team in the best situation to win.

“What makes them special in my eyes is that they are like brothers,” said Ferguson. “If you call one of them, they are probably going to be at the other’s house. If I need to get in contact with them, I can call one and usually get both of them at the same time.

“They just have a passion and love for the game. With those guys, they are just so excited when we have a game and then they run so hard. When you see them play, they refuse to go down. I have a thing where I stress to the backs not to get tackled by the first guy and as you see, it takes more than one to bring them down normally.”

West Forsyth only played five games this season. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the Titans did not play two of their games on the schedule. Even with only five games, Johnson and Long still put up some gaudy numbers. Johnson had 86 carries for 757 yards with 7 touchdowns and added two more scores on kick returns. Long rushed 99 times for 814 yards and 14 scores.

Because the Titans lost a lot of talent last season due to graduation, the duo knew the offensive load would fall on their shoulders and they were ready for the challenge. It was not a surprise for them that they had such a successful season on the field.

“We put in a lot of work last summer, so we expected this,” said Johnson about the effort put in to prepare for the season. “We were ready to step up and make things happen.”

At 4-1 the Titans did not make the playoffs this season, because of an overtime loss to Davie County. Johnson was hoping to have an opportunity to end his career at West with a playoff run, but is satisfied with the effort he put in throughout his career.

“You can only control what you can control, so I am going to just take it as a positive and work on what I need to do for college,” Johnson continued.

The young men have some fond memories of the shortened season. Long touched on the Reynolds game where both of them were severely fatigued due to not having practice for two weeks, while Johnson recalled the Davie County game where he was injured but continued to fight through.

Johnson and Long say their favorite running backs in the league are Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook, because of their tenacity, quickness and dual threat ability.

Ferguson says the pair of runners reminds him of backs like Eric Bieniemy, Lawrence Phillips and Ahman Green. “I just look at backs that were tough between the tackles and ran hard, they (Long and Johnson) kind of remind me of those guys,” he said.

Ferguson says it has been a pleasure coaching both backs, mainly due to their tremendous work ethic. According to Ferguson, the young men are “self-starters” and enjoy putting in the work.

“The one thing that makes both of them great are their personalities,” he said. “Nasion is more on the quiet side and Te is more vocal, but they balance each other out really well.”

Ferguson thinks both Johnson and Long have the potential to play on the next level. He says they call themselves “RBU,” which stands for Running Back University at West Forsyth and Johnson and Long have carried on the moniker.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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