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March 6, 2013
Johnson leaves a lasting legacy
- - Jeremy Johnson's high school athletic career came to a halt after Carver-Montgomery dropped its game with Sparkman in the basketball state semifinals.
Johnson, who scored 22 points, says he's already moved on, giving credit to Sparkman's hot shooting.
"In my point of view, it wasn't disappointing, because God has a plan for everything," Johnson said. "Everything went their way. They shot the ball well. There's nothing you could really do about a team that's shooting the ball and making 3-pointers."
Johnson runs through a list of his accomplishments during his time at Carver-Montgomery.
Among them was being named Alabama's 2012 Mr. Football after throwing for 3,193 yards for 31 touchdowns and seven interceptions during his senior season. He also rushed 105 times for 705 yards and seven touchdowns.
On the hardwood, Johnson helped Carver make it to four consecutive Final Fours and scored 16 points in Carver's 61-56 win over Hazel Green to win the 2011-12 state title.
"People say I did a lot at Carver," he said. "I made history with the Mr. Football Award, with winning the state, not just me, but being on that team.
"My legacy, I've left a lot. I've left a great trademark. Hopefully people will see that and it can make them want to do the same things. That's what I'm pretty much doing, doing it for the upcoming people who plan on coming to Carver."
Despite all the individual and team achievements, it's a low moment that still stands out to Johnson, a play in the football state semifinals against Opelika.
"I was mad at the basketball thing," Johnson said. "I was mad. But I wasn't like I was in football. I was sick. I was sick in football. It wasn't as painful. It wasn't that same feeling."
Johnson finished the game versus Opelika with 229 yards on 23-40 passing and accounted for all three Carver touchdowns, but it's a late pass attempt that still haunts him.
Down six points with less than two minutes to play, Johnson led Carver down to the 5-yard line.
Johnson rolled to his left and saw a receiver in the back of the end zone, but failed to see the Opelika defender in between them. The defender caught it and returned it 100 yards for the game-sealing touchdown and Opelika went on to win 35-21.
"I wish I could just go back to that one play. I wish I could just throw the ball away. And then we can get another chance and we go to the state. And we definitely beat Hoover in state, because I know we would've won once we got there. I know we were going to win it.
"If you could feel how I feel, knowing I threw that interception, knowing it was my fault, that was the worst feeling ever. I was so sick. I couldn't even leave the football field after that."
Johnson has now turned his attention toward his upcoming career at Auburn. He was on campus as recently as Monday hanging out with coaches. When Johnson arrives on the Plains this summer, he has no intention of waiting for a chance at the starting quarterback job.
"I'm getting myself mentally and physically ready to play. They put the best players on the field."
As he puts his accomplished high school career in the rearview mirror, he'll carry with him the lessons learned of coming up short in the semifinals of his final seasons of high school football and basketball.
"It still stings me to this day. I still think about it. But I take it as a lesson learned, so now I know, for the next time I come in that situation, I know what to do. I know how it feels to be in that predicament, and I know what to do the next time."
Here's a quick Q&A with Johnson's coach at Carver-Montgomery Billy Gresham.
ON WHAT KIND OF PLAYER AUBURN IS GETTING IN JOHNSON: Auburn is getting a very competitive player, a very competitive player. A player who's going to lead the team, set an example and work hard. He's a great student-athlete. We know he can throw the football and do all of the athletics, but he's a great overall student-athlete.
ON JOHNSON'S LEADERSHIP ABILITY: It's tremendous. He's one of those guys that a lot of guys that a lot of guys who respect. The way he speaks and the way he carries himself, he sets an example. Not just talking about it, but doing it. And he has that ability for guys to follow him. He's got that smile where he lights up the room and everybody kind of clings towards him. His leadership ability is bar-none. He's got that great personality that everybody likes. If he doesn't have a career in football, he'll have a career in sports casting. He just has a great personality.
ON JOHNSON'S FIT INTO GUS MALZAHN'S OFFENSE: It's very similar to what he did in his high school career. We allow him to run the ball a little bit, and he had a lot of short throws and a lot of big plays. A lot of the same things we did here, [he'll do at Auburn.] He's going to do a great job.