Juwan Johnson ended his spring with an impressive performance at the Blue-White game on Saturday. His teammates saw this type of showing coming from a mile away. The redshirt sophomore finished his strong day with seven catches for 81 yards to go along with a touchdown reception that iced the game.
James Franklin thinks that Johnson has the ability to step up into an increased role next season. “Juwan Johnson has been a guy that’s really come on,” Franklin said. “He’s 6’4″ 230 pounds and has made a bunch of plays.”
With the game clock winding down, Tommy Stevens threw a strike over the middle to Johnson with four seconds remaining to give Blue a 26-0 lead and end the game. Johnson said that was his first touchdown he’s caught in a couple of years and he loved the reaction from the Nittany Lion faithful.
“It was definitely fun. These fans are tremendous,” Johnson said. “These fans are electrifying, so even when I caught the touchdown, there was just this roar.”
At 6’4″, Johnson appears to be a solid contender to be a serviceable replacement for NFL-bound Chris Godwin on the outside at the receiver position. He’s shown flashes of his ability to use his size and speed in an impressive combination that garners the attention of the coaching staff and his teammates.
With DaeSean Hamilton, DeAndre Thompkins, and Saeed Blacknall all returning, Johnson still has plenty of competition for that starting receiver spot. But there’s no doubt that he has put in the time and effort to improve his game, and it’s apparent to his teammates.
“His attention to detail is on another level. He’s stepping up and has a bigger role than he did last year,” Thompkins said. “He’s one of those of those guy that I actually took a part of his game and applied it to mine as well. That’s one guy that I look at during this whole spring that has opened my eyes.”
Stevens gave another vote of confidence for his teammate that he calls his best friend. “The person that’s creating the most buzz in the program is Juwan Johnson,” Stevens said. “It’s just another example of a guy that came to work everyday and prepared everyday like he was a starter. He’s getting his opportunity to shine and he’s showing he can play at the highest level.”
Johnson feels that he’s had a really solid spring in multiple ways. He thinks that he’s done really well improving his focus recently.
“Focus is a big thing if you want to be successful,” Johnson said. “Just cutting things out of my life and keeping distractions away and keeping God first.”
He’s still not satisfied though — he wants to continue on his path to being a successful wide receiver that can contribute at this level. “I have a lot of things to work on, whether it’s route running or catching the ball,” Johnson said. “I can be proud of what I did this spring, but I still have a lot to work on.”
Johnson’s playing time for next season may still up in the air at this stage, but he definitely put himself in a solid position to increase his role after his strong showing this spring.