Meet Your Monarchs: Gerard Johnson Feature Story
By ODU Athletics
All of his football career, sophomore Gerard Johnson has only known the role of quarterback.
From being a star quarterback in high school to signing with Old Dominion University, Johnson knew when he signed with ODU he would move to running back.
“I always wanted to play running back during my high school days because I was more of the running type of quarterback,” said Johnson.
The move from quarterback was quite easy because of his desire to play the new position. “Running back just came natural to me,” he said.
It has been a vast adjustment for him to learn the different responsibilties of a running back, but overall it has been an exciting transition.
Coming in last year as a true freshman and playing a new position, Johnson had his work cut out for him.
“I looked at running back and being at ODU as a new chance to start all over,” he said.
Key differences that Johnson pointed out between playing quarterback and running backwere that quarterbacks focus on the upper body and working with receivers, while running backs have more emphasis on foot work type of drills.
“Pass blocking has been my toughest challenge to learn,” he said. Picking up linebackers that are 6-4, 260 pounds was something he had never done before.
In the 2013 season, Johnson burst onto the scene with a 100-yard rushing game at Norfolk State, and against UNC, when he set the school-record with an 81-yard run.
“It was a tiring run, and I did not score because I ran out of gas,” he said.
Not only has Johnson changed positions, he has had to adjust to a higher level football. Coming from high school football to college, competition is the foremost difference according to Johnson. Players are constantly competing against each other for playing time, and starting time.
“You have to bring your A game every single day,” he said. “Everyday players are competing to improve themselves and their teams.”
This upcoming 2014 season, Johnson will head into the fall as the No. 1 running back. With a year under his belt with practices, being in the weight room and learning new techniques, he is more focused and prepared than ever.
“My mind-set is much stronger for the 2014 season,” he said. Johnson’s body has adjusted to running back, and speed is still his strongest feature.