By: William Carroll
1st in a series of articles called Draft “Blue Light Specials”, a group of players who will likely be drafted in the late rounds or will be un-drafted free agents, but have the talent to produce. The series begins with SS Rasheed Johnson of Millersville University in PA.
1. I have had the pleasure of watching your career from your time at Millersville. What would you say are the 5 biggest and best lessons you’ve learned on your journey?
Rasheed Johnson: I would say that the best lessons I’ve learned are: #1 No matter the situations keep going because most of the time your almost there. Number two would be stay humble. Never get to high or low. 3 Would be always trust God. 4 Would be just to keep working as hard as possible even when you’re on top because the people below you want to take your spot.
2. The next question, you played for EJ Smith at Norristown High School, what was that program like and what kind of coach was he?
Rasheed Johnson: I played for EJ Smith in High School. He was a great coach. We had a lot of talented athletes at Norristown high. So we had a fast paced system on O and on D we just flew around and made plays on the field.
3. Who were your major rivals?
Rasheed Johnson: Major rivals in high school were Cheltenham high school and Northeast high school which are near the Philadelphia area. They always had a ton of athletes like so it usually turned out to be a both match up in both games.
4. Your home area is loaded with talent with Mike Ruth and Steve Bono to name a few who are some of the best players you played with or against while you were in high school or growing up?
Rasheed Johnson: It’s hard to name one specific game but I think the best high player I ever seen was on my time the year before I graduate. His name was Sheldon Mayor. He was unstoppable at the RB position. I would compare him to Daren Sproles. He was under size which led him to the D2 level where he player for Shippensburg University.
5. What was your recruitment process like, who was interested and how did you choose your school?
Rasheed Johnson: Coming out of high school I was really under the radar because I only played football my senior. I was a big football player growing up but decided to stop playing football in high school and only played just basketball until my senior year. Senior year i went out for the football team the week before the first game and got on the team as a LB. caught a pick the first game and had about 5 tackles. I started the rest of the season and ended up getting all league, I was on the top tacklers in the area and made all-star game. I felt back on home with the game I loved so I stuck with it going into college but was getting no interest cause schools really didn’t know about me. I wish I would have played throughout high school. I would have probably had a lot of offers to choose from my senior year.
6. What was the best game and the biggest play you made as a high school player?
Rasheed Johnson: My senior year Downingtown East had a couple D1 players. There running back name was Drew Harris at the time who had a couple back offers. The fed him every play and ever play I tried to meet him in the whole to give him a big hit.
7. What was you big “Welcome to College Football” Moment?
Rasheed Johnson: My second year with the program we played Cal Pa. They had a running back named Jeff Knox who plays Canadian ball now. But all year I was coming down filling the whole laying the wood on people. With him it was different. I filled the whole back to back and got ran over bad both times. It was then I realized he was a man.
8. What is your current height/weight and what are your testing numbers?
Rasheed Johnson: 5’11” 217 only a 40 which was 4.68 at Temple’s pro day.
9. How have the systems and staffs at your school impacted your development?
Rasheed Johnson: I was surround by a lot of great coaches at Millersville. They put a lot of trust in me to run the defense from the safety position for 4 years. Their trust made me a better leader and gave me the confidence I need to make the plays out there.
10. Which coaches have had the greatest impact on you and why?
Rasheed Johnson: My Defensive backs coach my first couple years at the ‘Ville’ was Aubrey Kelly. He gave me my first chance and when he gave me the chance I never looked back. As a young college player he showed me a lot confidence in me which gave me the confidence on the field.
11. How hard was to adjust to the verbiage, system and play-book and when did you feel 100% comfortable?
Rasheed Johnson: It wasn’t that hard to learn the system once I started studying it on a daily basis. At Millersville the defense is run by the safeties. We make all the checks and call like a QB on O. So we had to know our position and everyone else’s. Every year I was comfort ale because I studied it so much.
12. Who have been your favorite teammates, and why?
Rasheed Johnson: Reggie Slaton and Joey Pham. They have always been my guys. I see the same drive and passion in there play which connected me with them. Two great players and two great friends.
13. Who has been your favorite opponent and why?
Rasheed Johnson: I loved playing against Westchester every year. It’s basically like a home game for me. It’s right near the Norristown area so I had a lot of fans and the stands. A lot of kids from my high school went there too. So it was always a great experience for me.
14. If you could put together a list of your favorite players to watch or emulate, who is on that list and why?
Rasheed Johnson: Eric Berry, Earl Tomas, Sean Taylor, Kam Chancellor and Brian Dawkins. I try to shape my game after theirs. These players are or were the best in the game.
15. What NFL teams are your favorites and why?
Rasheed Johnson: [The] Dallas Cowboys. My dad was a fan since I was born in 93. I can remember back when I was younger him playing madden using players like Ismail Rocket and Joey Galloway. So I guess I just followed his footsteps and became a fan.
16. Which NFL players do you think your game most closely resembles and why?
Rasheed Johnson: Guys like Kam Chancellor and Tony Jefferson are my NFL role models. Their bigger guys who can cover but do most of their work in the box. I tried to model my game after theirs. And also have always looked up to Eric Berry
17. When football is over what would you like to do with your education?
Rasheed Johnson: I want to work at ESPN or just back and talk about sports like Charles Barkley on TNT. I want to give back to younger guys in my community too. So being a high school coach or college coach had always been the plan too.
18. Finally if you could go back in time to talk to a 17 year-old you, what would you tell him?
Rasheed Johnson: I would have told myself to get focus and choose a sport and stick with it. I didn’t play football until my senior year of high school. I would tell myself to forget basketball and just play football.
19. And what would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
Rasheed Johnson: I would have played football my freshman to senior year. I picked up football my senior year. I was a basketball star at first.
20. What [if any] is/are your nickname[s] and how did you get it/them?
Rasheed Johnson: Most of the people call me “Smack.” I got that name from me football because of the hits stared giving out at football games. So it just stuck with me