South Carolina Fireworks Show this Fall

As running back Greg Johnson prepares for the arrival of friends and family for the holiday weekend, he can't help but think ahead to the football season. Actually, he can't wait to get back on the field. Why? First, last year was a disappointment for him, as Greg's team finished with a 2-8 record - - with a game seven injury limiting him for the remainder of the season. There is another reason that becomes apparent. Football isn't just a game for Johnson - - it is far more.

As a skinny freshman, Greg Johnson's speed got him on the varsity field in a handful of games. Coach Doc Davis pulled Greg aside after the season and challenged him to get better, telling him that if he took lifting weights seriously, and built the strength necessary to complement his speed and elusiveness, Greg Johnson would get a lot more playing time. What happened after that bit of advice is perhaps what best describes what football means to Greg Johnson.

Lifting weights seriously involves a lot of hard work and a good deal of pain. Changing your work habits takes a great deal of determination. So, how many running backs in the nation have 4.45 speed in the 40? Quite a few, perhaps. Now, how many of those running backs also happen to be able to bench press 360 pounds? How many of that significantly smaller group can stand under a basket, and slam dunk "any way you want me to." This, football fans, is an athlete who not only won two state titles in power-lifting events (40 and bench press), but also has a 39" vertical jump to his credit.

During the 2003 season, Greg Johnson had 1024 yards on approximately 156 carries. That averages 6.56 yards per carry - - again for a team that only won two games all year. With 225 yards receiving, Greg is a cutback runner who is a "very exciting player… a game breaker… you can stop me for a while, but you can't lock me down… at some point, I'm going to get you."

Greg is a realist and knows that 1,024 yards is impressive, but not impressive enough to warrant guaranteed attention from the major football powers. Team-oriented, Greg also knows that for his team to be successful, he needs to have a very productive year. Chief among the coaches he will be trying to impressive will be new Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan. Greg's grandfather loved watching Nebraska's option offense and its "pound you" style. That love was passed on to his grandson, who ultimately grew up a Husker fan. Also capturing Greg's attention at this point are the Auburn Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks - - but both trail the Huskers by a significant margin at this point.

Greg currently holds a 2.5 GPA, and won't take the SAT/ACT until fall. If his dedication to the weight room is any indication, he'll achieve the test scores he needs to qualify for a scholarship. It would not be wise to bet against him.


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