It will be the first time his father has seen him play in person because for the last year, Lt. Colonel Nathaniel Johnson has been stationed in Iraq. But he returned home this week and will be at Commonwealth Stadium to see Christian and his brother, freshman linebacker Micah Johnson, play.
"It is going to be hard. I want every game to be a real good game for me, but my dad has not seen me play college football. He went to the Louisville game last year, but I didn't get to play. Right after that, he left for Iraq. This is going to be first time for him to see me play live. I want to make him proud. I want to show him what I have been doing for a year while he has been over there working for me. I want to show him I have been working on things to help my future while he was gone. It will be hard, though. I will be a little more nervous, but I'm also going to be so excited to have him home."
Johnson is one of the strongest players on Kentucky's team. He says he's not a big "crier." However, the big guy broke down when his father left. "I cried a little bit and tears rolled down my eyes. I am a big family person. I couldn't help it. I will do anything to help my family, but when he was over there, there was nothing I could do. Having him home is such a relief. We prayed a lot and left it in God's hands. That's one reason I didn't worry as much about him, but I worried enough."
He couldn't help worrying when he watched television or read a newspaper. "The first couple of months he was there, it seemed like every time I turned on the TV some soldiers were dying in battle or being hit by a bomb of some kind. I just kept praying. There was nothing else I could do," Johnson said. "It was hard to call him and hard to even e-mail him. One time he talked to my mom after a battle when two soldiers from his battalion dies. That was tough on all of us."
He knew how much his mother worried. He was away at school. His father was in Iraq. Younger brother Micah was being bombarded by big-time recruiters from across the nation.
It was hard for her. I know we put her through a little bit of stress with my dad gone. What I tried to do was really be a good son and try to stay out of all types of trouble and keep my grades up so she would not have to worry about us," he said. "I tried take care of my little brother and made sure he had someone look up to while my father was gone. I did all I could to keep my mom from having extra worries."
And what about him? How did he relieve his stress?
"Football was a way to take out my stress. I felt I was over here doing something while he was over there working and that when he came back, I would have something to make him proud about. Without football, I don't know what I would have done," Johnson said. "Now thankfully he's back and I'll always be so grateful for that."