Everyone talks about Jake Locker, but the most important player on the team that needs to come through in 2008 is TB Brandon Johnson. We got a glimpse of what Brandon can do in 2007 during the second half of the California game. He came in for an injured Louis Rankin and just punished the vaunted California defense for his first 100 yard game. When the guy ahead of you is putting together a 1200 yard plus season there aren't a lot of opportunities, but in 2007 Brandon impressed the fans and coaches with a solid effort in his first year on campus.
In 2008 Johnson has the chance to establish himself as the man to lead the Husky running attack over the next three years he is on campus. Behind him is a stable of talented running backs led by Willie Griffin, Brandon Yakaboski, Chris Polk, Curtis Shaw, Johri Fogerson, David Freeman, and Terrance Dailey. All these kids are hungry for playing time, and Brandon is going to have to hold them off this fall because almost every position on a 4-9 football team is up for grabs.
What I like about Brandon is that he is physical, plus he still has the speed to pop the big one. He is the kind of kid that you hope you can count on to pick up a long 3rd and two in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. No knock on Louis Rankin, but he never developed into that guy, and for Washington to take it to the next level they need Johnson, or someone else to emerge to be that guy.
We haven't seen the true freshman play yet, but Brandon has a decided edge over Griffin and Yakaboski going into camp based on his performance last season. Curtis Shaw is needed more at WR so will be playing more SB, but Chris Polk on the other hand seems to be in the early mix at TB. Brandon is going to be challenged by Polk early in camp, and it is imperative that he steps up and meets the challenge to hold the talented freshman off.
Brandon reported to camp at around 195 pounds which is around 5-10 pounds lighter than you would like the second year running back to be. He had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in early May and the coaches don't feel he is 100% yet coming into camp. As we shared with you yesterday there are some people associated with the program who feel he didn't put in enough work during rehab, and overall conditioning this past summer.
The second year in the program is always tough for most of the kids. The first year of school, and all the work you have to put in during the off season can wear anyone down. Sometimes kids simply need a bit of a mental break to clear their minds out. We all have to remember that all the second year players have been going non stop since last August, and it isn't unusual for them to feel burned out after the spring, especially when you have to have some surgery.
Brandon had the opportunity to be interviewed by the PI's Molly Yanity yesterday and he had these comments. I think there is a pretty good chance that Brandon's father is one of our readers.
Sophomore tailback Brandon Johnson got a phone call Tuesday. It was his father, Anthony. The elder Johnson had read online his son may have slacked off a bit during summer workouts.
Johnson didn't dodge the question. "It sounds like excuses, but part of it was my knee was bothering me, then my housing situation," he said, explaining he lived in Northgate and his teammate, Tyrone Duncan, had been in an accident. So, he said, he lost his ride to morning workouts.
Once again another reason to extend the Sound Transit Light Rail line from Husky Stadium to Northgate. Unfortunately by the time that happens Brandon hopefully will be a retired veteran NFL running back with plenty of coin in the bank.
Brandon is about to be challenged over the next three weeks by one of the better athletes who has ever set foot on the University of Washington campus. It is going to be real fun to see how this battle shakes out before the season starts. The competition is going to elevate the play of each player, and no matter who wins in the pre season the battle will continue every week in practice during the season. Washington is going to need 2-3 backs they can count on this season, count on Brandon Johnson being one of them.
Ty Willingham is kind of like a gentler version of the Captain played by Strother Martin in "Cool Hand Luke."
"What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week - which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men."
This is going to be a battle, and I think Brandon is going to do some very good things this year, but he needs to bring his "A" game over the next three weeks.