Former and current coaches say the sky is the limit for Danny Johnson.
He’s a father, electrical engineering major and freshman cornerback and punt/kick returner for the Jaguars.
“I think he’s done a great job, stepping in as a freshman and playing college football for the first time,” head coach Dawson Odums said. “He’s made a lot of great plays for us. He just continues to get better. We’re going to need him to play well down the stretch.”
He’s an explosive, quick and talented athlete whose impressive plays stood out during his first season on The Bluff, but his coaches commend his character at every possible chance.
“He was a phenomenal player for us, but one of the best things I can say about him is as good as he is an athlete, he’s even as good or better as a person,” said Cedric Anderson, Johnson’s high school football coach.
At East Feliciana High School, his positions ranged from wide receiver and cornerback to punter and return specialist. Early in his senior year, he was tasked with playing quarterback in a rebuilding season and led the team to a second-round playoff finish.
As a high school sophomore, Anderson named Johnson one of the team’s War Leaders, otherwise known as team captains. Anderson said Johnson’s responsibility and work ethic at a young age influenced the decision.
“He had loads of potential, and you could see it,” Anderson said. “Most kids, they have the potential, but they didn’t want to put in the work. He had the potential, he put in the work and he did anything extra he could to become better in all positions.”
Along with Southern, Johnson was recruited by Nicholls, McNeese, Southeastern, UL-Lafayette, Air Force, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Grambling.
Despite the numerous offers, Jackson is only 30 minutes from Southern, so the choice for Danny was easy. He chose Southern to be close to his family and son, Aiden, who Johnson had as an underclassman.
“He was highly recruited, and he chose to come to Southern so he could stay around his son,” Richardson said. “That’s really what he plays for every Saturday.”
During his first season at Southern, Johnson has returned 10 kicks for 349 yards and one touchdown, three interceptions for 75 yards and three punts for 45 yards. He’s also tallied 35 tackles and 11 pass breakups, which ranks second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference for passes defensed.
Johnson stood out to teammates and coaches during fall camp and began the season as a back up. When Kevin King became academically ineligible early in the season, Johnson had his chance to start.
“Once you start playing, you’re really not a freshman anymore,” Jaleel Richardson said. “He took on the role really well, he owned up to his responsibilities, and he’s really showing out.
Defensive backs and special teams coach Marty Biagi said Johnson is the typical kind of student-athlete in high school Southern tries to recruit. His athleticism partnered with his ability to be able to handle the playbook gave Biagi the confidence that Johnson was ready to play.
“He has the one thing all coaches wish they had in players; he has the want to,” Biagi said. “No matter what he puts his mind to, he wants to do it well 100 percent of the time. And that’s sometimes hard to find nowadays in this profession. He wants to do the right thing all the time, and when you’re doing those kind of things, the sky is the limit for you.”