Perhaps there was no fan happier about Arkansas punter Sam Irwin-Hill’s 51-yard sprint to the end zone against Texas A&M than Razorback 2015 punting commit Blake Johnson of Los Alamitos, Calif.
A very good athlete himself and the nation’s top-ranked punter, Johnson (6-1, 190) can so see himself doing the same thing for Arkansas in years to come under the tutelage of Arkansas assistant Rory Segrest.
“I was so happy for Sam,” Johnson said. “I got a chance to meet him out when I was in Arkansas on my visit and he is just a great guy. He’s a great athlete. I was so happy for him, but I was also thinking about how great that would be if I get that same chance.
“Coach Segrest actually sent me a text earlier this week that said ‘you ready to run some fake punts? Johnson added. “You bet I am.”
Despite Irwin-Hill’s dash to pay dirt, Arkansas let go of a 28-14 lead to start the fourth quarter and eventually lost to the Aggies 35-28 in overtime at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“That was a tough, tough loss, but we played so well and you can see how much better they are getting,” Johnson said. “That has me even more excited about being a Razorback and getting out there.”
Johnson, who has plans to take his official visit the weekend of Arkansas’ home game with LSU on Nov. 15, has already been named to the U.S. Army All-American game.
He plays linebacker and is a reserve quarterback as well as punts for Los Alamitos and had 85 tackles, four sacks and an interception last season while being named an all-league linebacker.
Johnson, whose previously unbeaten team lost 30-26 to Narbonne on Friday night, had 30 tackles and three sacks through the first four games this season.
He had two of those sacks in a 46-9 win over Canyon on Sept. 18 with one resulting in a strip that was returned for a touchdown.
“I really look at myself as a football player that just happens to be a punter,” Johnson said. “I love to hit and love the game of football.”
His favorite part of the Razorback team right now is the offensive line.
“I love those guys – they are big, mean and nasty and just line up and power the ball at the defense,” Johnson said. “I just love watching them play. I think it is because I have that same type mentality.”
In fact, Johnson hopes he gets the chance to actually be on other special teams than just being the punter, but realizes that might not happen because of his main role.
“Oh, that would just be great,” Johnson said. “I would love to do more than just punting, but I know they probably won’t let me.”
Because of Los Alamitos’ high-powered offense, Johnson has only gotten to punt six times this season, five of which he has put inside the 20.
“Our offense is so good that I have only got to punt six times this season and most of those have been directional punts,” said Johnson, who is averaging 35.5 yards per punt.
He has a big fan in Los Alamitos head coach John Barnes, who has been head coach at the school for 35 years.
Los Alamitos has not had a punt blocked in the last 10 years – including all three of Johnson’s seasons - and the last one happened when there were just 10 players on the field.
“We’re lucky to have him,” Barnes told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “I told all of the colleges that called that they’re getting a football player, not just a punter, with (Johnson). He jumps out at you when you watch game film. He’s a great athlete and a good student.”
• • •
• Arkansas quarterback commit Ty Storey was 23 of 41 passes and threw for 411 yards and a trio of touchdowns, also ran for 42 yards and two touchdowns and also topped 10,000 yards in career passing yardage.
He did so on a 94-yard touchdown pass to Taylor King (11 catches, 224 yards) to make it 29-0 in the third quarter of what turned into a 42-8 win over Paris.
• K.J. Hill scored three different ways in a 42-0 win over Mountain Home at War Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.
He caught 2 passes for 64 yards and a score, had 2 carries for 64 yards and a TD and also returned a punt 65 yards for another touchdowns.
• Arkansas TE commit Will Gragg of Dumas had 4 catches for 77 yards in a 21-14 loss to Crossett.
• Highland WR Deon Stewart – a Razorback commit – had 4 catches for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns in his team’s 54-20 win over Brookland.
• Razorback tailback pledge Rawleigh Williams had 32 carries for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns and now has 1,303 yards and 17 TDs on 163 carries this season.
• Arkansas DL pledge Hjalte Froholdt of Bradenton, Fla., IMG Academy, had 7 tackles, 2 sacks and forced a fumble that was returned for a score in his team’s 61-0 win over Miami, Fla., Monsignor Prep.
• Razorback defensive end pledge Jamario Bell had 5 tackles, two for lost yardage, and also caught a pass for 14 yards in limited action in a 72-0 win over Hampton.
• Arkansas TE commit C.J. O’Grady had 4 catches for 45 yards in Fayetteville’s 7-0 win over Fort Smith Southside.
• Fayetteville sophomore quarterback Taylor Powell was 11 of 21 for 120 yards in that same game.
• Conway junior quarterback Breylin Smith was 13-of-26 passing for 233 yards and four touchdown passes – all in the second half – as his team whipped Van Buren 35-10.
• Prairie Grove junior tight end Dylan Soehner had 4 catches for 84 yards and a score in his team’s 39-27 win over Gravette.
• Independence, Mo., Fort Osage junior quarterback Skylar Thompson was 9-of-12 passing for 153 yards and four touchdowns while playing just one half.
• Pulaski Academy junior T.J. Hammonds had 185 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in his team’s 26-20 loss to Dover.
• Coppell, Texas, tailback Charles West had 25 carries for 237 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his team’s 28-24 loss to Southlake Carroll.
West has now rushed 103 times for 905 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
• In that same game, Southlake Carroll junior Lil’Jordan Humphrey had 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns – including the game-winning two-yard run with 24 seconds left.
Johnson Ready For Arkansas' Punt-Run Game
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