Chad Johnson eager to hit the field for Arizona State football

Long before Chad Johnson Jr. set foot on campus at Arizona State, he was jokingly called the Sun Devils’ top scout.

Johnson committed to ASU in October 2018 as a high school student — nearly two years before he enrolled. Few were more active on social media platforms, frequently plugging into the school’s football program and encouraging other high school prospects to follow him there as well.

But nearly two years after leaving Cathedral High School in Los Angeles and enrolling at ASU, Johnson, the son of the former NFL wide receiver of the same name, has yet to make an impact. on the playing field. He hopes his turn will finally come this season when the Sun Devils enter the fall campaign with a new offensive coordinator and quarterback.

March 30, 2022;  Tempe, Arizona, USA;  ASU's Chad Johnson Jr. (17) stretches during a practice at Kajikawa Training Fields.

The Sun Devils, who went 8-5 in 2021, are nine practices away from spring drills. It’s a bit more advanced than last spring when Johnson injured his foot while facing defensive back Timarcus Davis in practice.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder spent the rest of spring training on crutches and eventually underwent surgery for a turf toe. The only playing time he got in the regular season consisted of a handful of games, mostly on special teams late in the season.

“It was terrible. I cried for about two days when they told me I had to have surgery because I felt my confidence was in a place I had never been so it hurt, but I’m back,” Johnson said, after packing. practice earlier this week.

Johnson, ranked the 32nd prospect in the talent-laden California by 247Sports as a senior, was part of ASU’s heralded signing class of 2020, which was highlighted by four four-star wide receivers. Johnson was one of them. So was Elijhah Badger, Johnson’s roommate and a player many have spoken of as one of the most athletically gifted players on the team.

Badger had three carries for 39 yards, getting that distance around plays and had seven catches for 61 extra yards during the 2021 season.

If the Sun Devils want to improve on a passing game that ranked 11th (193.3 ypg) in the Pac-12 a year ago, they’ll need contributors like Johnson and Badger to step in.

March 30, 2022;  Tempe, Arizona, USA;  ASU's Chad Johnson Jr. (17) runs during a practice at Kajikawa Training Ranges.

“Two really talented players,” said wide receivers coach Bobby Wade, who served as interim coach last year and has since been assigned to the position permanently. “I think Chad is young but he’s mature and ready. I think they’ve all been waiting for their opportunity to show up and this spring really showed their abilities and how big plays they can be and how productive they can be on the court. and a short field with the skills they have, so I expect them both to be very good for us.”

One of the biggest tasks for the whole group this spring is to develop a relationship with whoever is emerging at quarterback. It’s probably an even harder thing to do with five suitors still in the mix, although it looks like Jayden Daniels replacement Trenton Bourguet and Alabama transfer Paul Tyson are the top two contenders. .

“When Jayden was here, we had a No. 1 quarterback,” Johnson said. “Right now we don’t have a quarterback, so we’re all in the process of bonding with all the quarterbacks, so when we get a No. 1, whoever it is, we’ll have a good relationship with him. Whenever I’m out there I’m just going my own way even if I don’t know who’s throwing it at me half the time. I’m really focused on catching this thing.

And while Johnson has yet to make an impact on the field, he remains a strong supporter of the school, not just the football program. He is also a big fan of the baseball and softball teams, thanks to his background in baseball. He excelled in center field and considered his primary sport growing.

“I’ve been coming to ASU since 2018 with the baseball team, even before I got involved in football to show off my skills, which I’ve wanted to show everyone for a while now is going to be fun,” a- he declared.

Clark offers advice

ASU DB Jordan Clark (1) puts on his helmet during spring football training in Tempe, Arizona on March 28, 2021.

Daniels may be gone, but he’s leaning on one of his former teammates – junior fullback Jordan Clark. After three years from ASU, Daniels is now at LSU and Clark is from Baton Rouge. The two talk several times a week with Clark offering recommendations on where to go, most often when it comes to food.

Everything about the area is different, so there was a learning curve for Daniels, a Southern California native.

“He’s a Californian through and through,” Clark said. “He always asks me what is, what is. What is dirty rice? What is jambalaya? And he doesn’t understand their way of talking.”

Tips

–Former Sun Devil safety David Fulcher (1983-85), recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, was in practice Wednesday. Others in attendance included Marcus Williams (2015-18), Kendrick Bates (1997-1999), Todd Hons (1982-1983), Mark Shupe (1982-1984) and Tom Magazzeni (1982-1983).

– Linebacker Caleb McCullough and wide receiver LV Bunkley-Shelton sported non-contact green jerseys. McCullough also did it on Monday. Bunkley-Shelton’s participation was a good sign as he had been relegated to rehab work inside the Dickey Dome for a previously undisclosed injury.

— The Sun Devils practiced in the noise of the crowd, supported by their own side. In the third game of the series, there was an illegal procedural call with tight end Jalin Conyers cited for a false start.

— Wednesday’s practice was the ninth out of 15 spring sessions. The Sun Devils are scheduled to practice again Friday and Saturday.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602 444-4783. Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.

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