Millbrook grad Johnson hoping for shot at NFL | Winchester Star

On March 30 at Marshall University soccer’s professional day, Nazeeh Johnson exploded off the ground of the Chris Cline Athletic Complex in Huntington, W.Va.

He almost reached the highest of the vertical leap tester, setting off a burst of roars from members of the family and former teammates of the defensive again. Soon after, a burst of impressed feedback began coming in on social media concerning the 2016 Millbrook graduate. author Nick Shook famous that the 5-foot-10, 199-pound’s Johnson’s 42.5 inch vertical leap was higher than any mark recorded on the NFL Combine. (Johnson was not invited to the March 1-7 occasion held in Indianapolis.) He additionally famous that Johnson’s vertical was only a half inch off the leap of one other Marshall standout — Randy Moss, one of many best broad receivers in NFL historical past.

Terry Grossetti Jr. — the proprietor of Grossetti Performance in New Castle, Pa. — additionally took discover. He helped Johnson practice for his professional day for eight weeks. Johnson arrived there with a 35-inch vertical leap.

“This is why I say — “Where the best come to get better,” Grossetti posted on Twitter. “Anybody can make bad athletes better and talk about results. We take ALREADY FAST/EXPLOSIVE athletes AND GET MORE out of them.”

Johnson has spectacular velocity (4.37 seconds for the 40-yard sprint) and abilities (302 tackles, seven interceptions and 20 go breakups in 5 seasons, three-time All-Conference USA choice) however he wouldn’t be the place he’s now with out an abundance of coronary heart and work ethic.

Grossetti didn’t have to work on these qualities with the previous walk-on, who has individuals like Shook pondering he’s a attainable Day 3 choice for the NFL Draft. The draft runs April 28-30, with first spherical alternatives on Day 1, second and third on Day 2 and fourth by seventh on Day 3.

When requested if he felt assured about getting drafted, Johnson stated he did in a current cellphone interview. Even if Johnson doesn’t get picked, there’s all the time the undrafted free agent route. The final space participant to signal a type of offers was former Sherando and University of Pittsburgh star George Aston, a fullback who participated within the Denver Broncos’ coaching camp in 2019.

“Anything can happen on draft day, but I feel pretty confident,” Johnson stated. “I’ve got the film, I’ve got the accolades, and the numbers just speak for itself. I feel like I have a chance of making history for my family. I’m just counting the days.”

It’s been a memorable and devoted experience to get thus far. When the NCAA granted an additional yr of eligibility for fall athletes in August of 2020, it wasn’t performed with skilled athletic careers in thoughts, however Johnson took full benefit of the additional time to get himself on the professional radar.

Halfway by the 2020 season, Johnson stated he was leaning strongly towards coming again. After making 11 tackles within the Camelia Bowl in Alabama on Dec. 25 to finish a 7-3 season, Johnson formally made the choice to play one other yr of faculty soccer.

However, after Doc Holliday was let go after 11 years as head coach on Jan. 4, 2021, Johnson was left questioning whether or not his final yr can be spent at Marshall. Less than two weeks later, the Thundering Herd employed Charles Huff — a former affiliate head coach and operating backs coach for Alabama — to exchange Holliday. It didn’t take lengthy for Johnson to embrace the thought of staying at Marshall.

“Doc Holliday was all I knew,” Johnson stated. “But I wanted to be a part of the new program. It would be my first-time ever playing for a Black head coach, and I always wanted to do that in my career.”

Johnson stated enjoying for the 38-year-old Huff was undoubtedly price it.

“He’s somebody our age we can relate to,” Johnson stated. “He had an open-door policy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a starter or not, or you’re a walk-on.”

On the sector, Johnson needed to make lots of changes. The new teaching employees emphasised blitzing and altering their defensive appears to be like post-snap, and Johnson principally performed free security in a 4-2-5 scheme after enjoying as a nickel again beforehand.

But Johnson thrived, regardless that he missed three of Marshall’s 13 video games, together with the Nov. 6 and Nov. 13 video games due to emergency appendix surgical procedure. (Johnson felt sturdy the day after the surgical procedure, however medical doctors didn’t need his sutures to open.) Johnson had 67 tackles (2.5 for loss), 5 go breakups and two interceptions and was named All-Conference USA Honorable Mention.

At the common season’s conclusion, Johnson was certainly one of 4 gamers who earned Unsung Hero awards from the Herd.

“It means everything,” stated Johnson of the award. “It shows my resilience to work. It shows everybody you get what you want by working hard.”

After that, Johnson would play yet one more recreation for Marshall — a 36-21 loss to Louisiana within the New Orleans Bowl to finish a 7-6 season — and was certainly one of 154 gamers who participated within the Tropical Bowl All-Star Game on Jan. 15 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

Johnson stated he talked to about 12 to fifteen professional scouts. He thought the particular groups work he put in was useful, and he had one notably huge play within the recreation when he got here off a publish route to help a cornerback and broke up a go 40 yards downfield over the center.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” Johnson stated. “I got to see a lot of talented people from different schools.”

Johnson needed to be quick on the Tropical Bowl, so after Marshall’s season ended he went from 195 kilos to 183 by consuming much less and consuming issues like shredded rooster, operating extra, and ingesting extra fluids. Johnson — who desires to indicate groups he can play cornerback as effectively — stated it labored, as a result of he by no means felt quicker.

When he reported to Grossetti Performance on Jan. 26, he went there with the aim of bulking again up whereas nonetheless sustaining his velocity. While dwelling at a close-by Comfort Inn for eight weeks, Johnson labored out six days per week, roughly two hours a day. Friday by Monday, Johnson did heavy lifting, Tuesday and Wednesday he did area work, and Thursday he was off.

Johnson stated Grossetti had him work out in a way that had his muscle tissue working as onerous as they may on a regular basis by giving him minimal relaxation between units. With his weight work, he would often do three units, with reps of 8 to fifteen in every set.

Johnson stated additionally they put him on a strict weight loss plan the place he may select issues like rooster, beef stew and spaghetti with turkey meat. He additionally stated Grossetti gave him creatine and nutritional vitamins.

“They did all the stuff you need for your body to perform and how you want it to perform,” Johnson stated. “I feel like [Grossetti] helped me a lot. Just to be in that situation and to have an opportunity to work out and perfect your craft, I enjoyed it.”

When it was throughout, Johnson’s weight went from 183 to 199 kilos. And he didn’t lose his velocity.

Johnson ran a 4.38-second 40-yard sprint in February. At Marshall’s professional day, Johnson ran the 40 twice. Some individuals had him as quick as 4.35, although his common time for the day was 4.37. Johnson stated he noticed some projections that didn’t suppose he may run quicker than 4.5, including motivational gas to his efficiency.

Johnson was enthused by that, and as evidenced by the net movies of his vertical leap, his yells after that leap carried rather a lot farther than 42.5 inches.

“I’m a person that does well under pressure,” Johnson stated. “When I hit that vertical, everybody started going crazy. It just felt really good to do that.”

Naturally, Johnson desires the possibility to proceed to enhance on the professional degree. He’s keen to work on no matter it takes to contribute and be the very best he may be. Perhaps he may even land domestically with the Washington Commanders. The Washington Post’s Sam Fortier reported that Johnson was certainly one of 17 draft prospects that visited the group final week for conferences and medical evaluations.

“From someone who was going from zero [scholarship] looks in high school to the point I’m at now, it just shows that if you put the work in and just don’t care what other people think, it will all work out,” stated Johnson, who was awarded a full scholarship previous to his sophomore yr in 2018 (he was red-shirted in 2016). “You just have to believe in yourself. Just to be in this position to have a shot at the league, that’s what I’m thankful for.”

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