Johnson Ready to Compete for Starting Job

Los Alamitos, Calif., three-star punter Blake Johnson was in Fayetteville for Arkansas' annual Red-White spring game. He is ready to get on campus and compete for the starting job.

While it wasn’t as memorable as his last trip to Fayetteville, Blake Johnson still enjoyed his latest visit.

The three-star punter from Los Alamitos, Calif., was at Arkansas for the Razorbacks’ annual Red-White spring game.

“I loved it,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t as crazy as the LSU-Arkansas game last season, but it was still awesome.”

That game, Arkansas upset No. 17 LSU 17-0 to snap a 17-game SEC losing streak and fans stormed the field.

“That game was like nothing I have ever experienced,” Johnson told Scout the week after the game. “The crowd noise was just nuts and the atmosphere was just awesome.

“It was just so exciting to me that I can hardly find the words to describe it. Just awesome. I had to go rushing the field with everybody else. It was just great.”

At the Red-White game, Johnson watched as Toby Baker punted five times for an average of 49.4 yards – including 55- and 58-yard punts – and pinned three inside the 20-yard line. Austin McGehee punted three times for an average of 41.3 yards, including a 50-yarder.

The three punters – Johnson, Baker and McGehee – will compete in the fall for the right to replace Sam Irwin-Hill, a Ray Guy Award candidate during his two years with the Razorbacks.

They’ll also be trying to make their mark in a program that has had several great punters, including three All-Americans and four All-SEC selections.

“I feel very confident that I’ll have a chance to be the starter,” Johnson said. “I’m very excited about the history. I want to add another name to the list.”

Johnson will solely be a punter at Arkansas, but he brings athleticism – he played quarterback and was an all-league linebacker in high school – to the Razorbacks that could be used in fake punts, which Arkansas did on a regular basis with Irwin-Hill.

“From what the coaches have told me, it’s highly possible I’ll be able to run some fakes,” Johnson said.

Living in the Los Angeles area has given Johnson several opportunities to learn from other great punters.

As a high school freshman, he worked out with eight-year NFL veteran Chris Kluwe, who was a high school All-American at Los Alamitos in 1999. Now, he is working out with former UCLA and All-Pac-10 punter Aaron Perez.

On his first punt in a varsity game, Johnson booted the ball 73 yards.

“I remember being a little sophomore and being nervous,” Johnson said. “I remember it spiraling, and it went over the guy’s head and started rolling. It was awesome.”

That punt kick-started a high school career that ultimately led to him being named the nation’s top punter by Chris Sailer Kicking and earning a spot in the U.S. Army All-American game.

With his high school days behind him, Johnson is ready to get on campus in June.

“I’m very excited,” Johnson said. “I’m ready to start fresh and start new, somewhere other than California.”

Hawgs Daily Top Stories