Sunday, October 4, 2009

VSR: Torero Pride in Tampa Bay

This right here is why today was a great day. For the first time ever, a player from my alma mater started an NFL game as University of San Diego's finest Josh Johnson suited up for Tampa Bay. And what better start than him throwing a TD on his first pass of the game.

Johnson played at USD from 2004-2008 and I was there for the first two years. I remember watching him as a freshman knowing he had the potential to do something great (one time he even returned a kickoff, why I dunno?). His first year as a starter (2005-06), he beat Yale on my 21st birthday, the first time anyone from the Pioneer League had beaten an Ivy League.

No better authority than Jim Harbaugh coached him those first three years and he developed from a great running QB to one who looked to pass 1st, run 2nd. He ran the West Coast offense well in those last 3 years and left as the most decorated player in school history (leading the nation in total offense in 2007).

He ended up finishing 3rd for the Walter Payton Award (D 1-AA Heisman) as a senior after throwing 43 TD's with only 1 INT. Better yet, he added muscle to his frame by the time he got drafted in the 5th round (a bad throwing combine dropped him down from 3rd round projections despite his 4.5 speed).

Oh yeah, he suffered a leg injury after his freshman year. I remember showing up to a dance on crutches, still finding a way to have a good time. I knew him in passing but he was a cool dude on campus at least while I was there.

We knew he had potential back then. If Jim Harbaugh says you're an NFL QB, you're ready. He had a decent day (13-22, 106 yards with a TD and pick --- 41 rushing yards on 7 carries) and it's hopefully the start of more things to come.

Congrats JJ. You represent all of us down there.

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