For about as long as high school football has been around, there have been players who had to wait their turn behind upperclassmen. For Mansfield Legacy running back Grant Johnson, the past two-plus seasons have been building to this — his turn.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment basically since my freshman year,” he said. “I’ve always had a senior in front of me. So, I finally get a year to focus on running back and see how far I can go with that.”
He’s one of those special guys that nobody’s ever heard of. I think he’ll have a breakout year.
Legacy head coach Chris Melson, on RB Grant Johnson
Johnson, now a senior, hasn’t exactly been riding the pine all the while. Last season as a junior behind Kameron Session on the running back depth chart, Broncos coach Chris Melson moved Johnson across the ball to fill a need at linebacker. Johnson responded by leading the team in tackles for loss.
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When he did get opportunities to carry the ball, Johnson made sure leave an impression, averaging 10.6 yards per rush, said Melson, who doesn’t hold back when discussing Johnson’s potential.
“Grant has a chance to be the best back we’ve ever had,” the coach said. “He could go for 3,000 yards. He’s one of those special guys that nobody’s ever heard of. I think he’ll have a breakout year. He works hard, he’s a leader. He’s going to be really good.”
“I’m excited to be in the backfield again,” Johnson added. “It’s been hard, but I’ve always been a team player so I didn’t think of it like that. Whatever was best for us. I obviously wanted more playing time, but coach tried to give me all he could, and when I had my chance I tried to make it happen.”
Johnson will be a focal point of an offense that must replace its quarterback, but does have four offensive linemen returning. After the Broncos advanced to the regional final last season, the deepest playoff run in program history, Johnson said he’s looking forward to helping this team live up to its raised bar of success.
“With the expectations we set last year, after we were so doubted and now we’ve made a name for ourselves, we have something to play for to back it up,” he said.
While the plan is to feature on the offense this year, Melson admitted Johnson could get snaps on defense, especially early in the season on critical downs. As you might expect, Johnson is just fine with that.
“I don’t plan on playing it a lot,” he said. “But if they need me, I’ll definitely go [play linebacker] again. Whatever it takes to win.”