There’s a new metaphorical glass case around the Texas Longhorns football facilities these days — following injuries to three of the four scholarship running backs and continued minor groin problems for freshman Jordan Whittington, freshman quarterback Roschon Johnson is now the emergency option at running back.
In recent days, Johnson has been taking reps at the position in the event that the Longhorns coaching staff has to break that glass case due to an emergency need to get out of a game.
Almost certainly headed for a redshirt season as the third-string quarterback, it’s an important case to break since Johnson can only play in four games this season and maintain his redshirt. However, it looks like that is about to happen:
Texas freshman QB Roschon Johnson was officially moved to third-string running back on Monday, according to my sources. He is expected to play on special teams and receive RB reps against Louisiana Tech in the season opener. Redshirt potential evaluated after first four games pic.twitter.com/mRC69epSSB— Anwar Richardson (@AnwarRichardson) August 27, 2019
The earliest returns from his teammates about his ability at the position were positive and unsolicited heading into Tuesday’s media availability with the team’s captains.
Here are the takes from redshirt freshman B-backer Byron Vaughns and freshman tight end Jared Wiley:
Then, on Tuesday, senior center Zach Shackelford and junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger both received questions about Johnson and his transition:
Two things stand out about those comments.
The first is how selfless Johnson was to agree to make the position change and explain to his teammates why it was so important to do so — it displays the same type of maturity that made him a take at the quarterback position and reflective of the recent comments by now-injured junior running back Daniel Young. Responses from freshman running back Jordan Whittington and senior wide receiver Devin Duvernay when asked to make similar changes resulted in similar responses.
The second comment that stands out is Ehlinger declaring Johnson a “freakish” athlete, a term that he used to describe players like Whittington and wide receiver Jake Smith. Presumably, it’s not a word that Ehlinger throws around lightly.
Unfortunately, Johnson’s senior film never got posted to Hudl, so his junior film and testing numbers from high school have to do most of the talking about Johnson’s athleticism — Johnson’s 40 time, 4.81, wasn’t a strong result, but he did post a 4.29 shuttle and 33.6-inch vertical leap.
Hardly freakish numbers, but Johnson has also had a full offseason in Yancy McKnight’s strength and conditioning program, so if Ehlinger thinks he looks freakish in practice, then there’s a solid chance that Johnson deserves that particular accolade.
Regardless of whether Johnson ultimately sees the field this fall at running back, his time working with running backs coach Stan Drayton will only help him in that area of the game once he gets a chance to move back to quarterback full time. And now his teammates know how mature and selfless he is as a person despite the fact that he’s a true freshman.