Introducing the 2006 Class: Jonathan Johnson

Life as a punter on a good offensive team can be a frustrating and boring experience. Jonathan Johnson knows that first hand, after playing for one of the best junior college teams in the nation - College of the Canyons. This season he will suit up for one of the best offensive teams in Division I, and yet he couldn't be more excited to start donning the maroon and gold this fall.

A punter's stats are the first ones to suffer when you're number is called few and far in between. "I only punted 38 times and that's probably 20 times less than any other JC in the country," said the 6-1 205 Jonathan Johnson. "But it's a team sport and you can't be selfish. If I'm not punting a lot that means our team is doing well and winning. When I punt I always think about field position. Sometimes people don't realize how much punting can help a defense."

Coming out of Grace Brethren High School (Calif.), Johnson was a qualifier, but he wasn't pleased with his prospects at the time. "Delaware State and Idaho State were the only two offers I had," he recalled. "I didn't feel like playing so far from home on a 1-AA team." Thus, he chose the junior college route with his first stop being nearby Ventura College. It was a move that born more out of necessity than a desire to play there. "I was kinda stuck in the water with those two offers," explained Johnson. "Then Ventura came calling, and I gave it a shot. There were good people there, but I felt I wanted to play on a higher level, so I went to College of the Canyons. I had some friends there, so I knew it would be an easy transition."

Indeed, this career move proved to be a positive one. Johnson ended the season listed as the fifth best punter in the nation in the junior college rankings. He earned All-Western States Conference first-team honors, and the school made it to the Southern California championship game. However, offers from major schools didn't pour in as expected. Chris Sailer's renowned kicking camp in Las Vegas this past January changed matters, as Johnson netted his first major scholarship offer.

"Coach Osborne was at that camp," said Johnson, "and that was the first time I heard from Arizona State. A week later they offered me a scholarship and I immediately accepted. I actually accepted when I was on a recruiting trip to Delaware State. I was talking to a lot of schools before that camp, and once I played well there that's when everything blew up. I wasn't worried about who didn't offer me until then."

At Arizona State, Johnson will re-join teammates Justin Tryon and Troy Nolan, who transferred to the Sun Devils in the spring. Both told Johnson that their head coach was talking to the Sun Devils about him, at the same time the maroon and gold were recruiting the two defensive backs. "I never thought anything would come out of it," admitted Johnson. "But I guess I was kinda optimistic, and when Coach Osborne contacted me, I wasn't surprised because he did already hear about me."

In 2005, Johnson averaged 37.8 yards on 38 punts. He converted six of 12 field goals, with his longest one registering at 48 yards, and made good on 55 out of 64 extra points. At Ventura College he averaged 40.2 yards on 68 punts. "Hang time is my strong point," he said of his skills. "It's nice to kick a 50 yarder, but you have to hang it up there, so they don't return it 30 yards on you. I do need to work more on directional punting."

Like the other newcomers on the team, the JC transfer has been on campus for several weeks now. "It's awesome here," he commented. "Everyone is so helpful with the academics, and there are great facilities. It's really great here." Johnson is studying for a BIS degree with a minor in business and another minor in Psychology.

Another factor that is easing his transition is returning ASU kicker Jesse Ainsworth. "Jesse lives five minutes away from me," remarked Johnson. "So when he comes back home to California, we would just go to a field and kick. He's been a great mentor to me, introduced me to everyone at ASU and got me established."

Due to the Sun Devils' punting woes, Ainsworth had to assume the punting duties along with his existing placekicking responsibilities. This season, the senior would be more than happy to hand the punting reins to Johnson. "Obviously he's gonna do what's best for the team," said Johnson, "and if he has to be the punter he'll go ahead and do it. But he wants to focus on kicking and that's where I come in."

Another possible player who was supposed to compete with Johnson was last season's punter Chris MacDonald, who transferred following spring practice to Texas State. Johnson stated that MacDonald's presence or absence wasn't going to affect his own mindset. "I was trying to stay focused whether he was gonna be here or not," claimed Johnson. "I just knew that I was gonna kick the ball the best I can, and if the coaches liked me better than Chris than I would play. I was surprised that he left, and I was looking forward to competing against him. Competition always makes you better. I hope to be starting from day one and be All Pac-10 this year."

A combination that would surely put ASU coaches, players and fans at ease.

Recruit Profile


Jonathan Johnson

High School/Junior College

Grace Brethren High School (Calif.)/College of the Canyons







Date of birth



Honolulu, HI

Favorite TV show

"Family Guy"

Favorite movie

"Fight Club"

Favorite singer/band

"Pink Floyd"

Favorite food


Favorite drink


Favorite athlete

"Todd Sauerbrun"

Favorite pro team

"San Diego Chargers"

Person you most admire

"My parents. They have been with me through everything."

First football memory

"My first year playing was my sophomore year in high school. I was doing kicking drills and loving it. I kicked a 46-yard field goal and then went on to play on the Varsity team."

One thing most people don't know about me

"I'm half El Salvadorian. My mother is from El Salvador."

Why did you choose ASU?

"Out of the schools taking to me, this was the closest to home."

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