Five-Star Backs Still Competing

NORMAN, Okla. -- In 2007 OU signed two All-American running backs in Justin Johnson and Jermie Calhoun. With talent in front of them on the depth chart it was obvious that the two players would be competing for minutes and practice opportunities. But according to Johnson that has not stopped the two from forming a five-star bond.

Running back Justin Johnson and teammate and fellow running back Jermie Calhoun's paths toward becoming college teammates started in high school.

"Yeah, he (Jermie Calhoun) did [come to my game]," Johnson said. "His coaches came down to my high school, and his coaches got the number, and I gave him a call up, and he was like, ‘Yeah, I'm gonna be there tonight,' so he came and talked to me after the game, and like I said, we had a little brotherly bond."

But Johnson, on the other hand, never made it to one of Calhoun's games, thanks to a misfortune.

"I was going to," Johnson said. "Jermie told me the game was at home, and I got there and the stadium was empty! He actually played away that game... I don't know what he was thinking about playing at home. I guess what [he was saying] is it's home stadium, but I didn't get to see him play in high school."

Nevertheless, the two have formed a bond as teammates ever since that day and on into their days at OU.

And that's part of the reason it was so difficult for either of them to realize one would redshirt the 2008-09 season.

"Coach Gundy talked to me and him during the summer [and] told us he didn't know who was going to redshirt," Johnson said. "And me and Jermie weren't sure if it was going to be me or it was going to be him or if it was going to be both of us."

So, they just kept giving it their all every day.

"Coach Gundy kept telling us [to] keep coming out and working hard everyday, and that's what we did," Johnson said.

Ultimately, it was Calhoun, and not Johnson, who redshirted last year, but Johnson said his teammate and friend responded well.

"Jermie didn't take it the wrong way when Coach told him," Johnson said. "He didn't pout about it. He kept going hard everyday in practice and kept running plays."

Johnson said he individually has learned a lot from the situation.

"Yeah, I mean, you can't just [always expect to play]," Johnson said. "Adrian Peterson was a great running back, and he had to work hard to come in and start right off the bat, but, I mean looking at Chris Brown, to where he's at right now, he worked for it. That's what me and Jermie know. We've got to do the same thing he did."

With opposing styles, the two could potentially work as a dynamic duo in the future in the Sooner backfield at some point.

"Jermie's kind of more shifty," Johnson said. "Me, I'm a power back and I'm working on my speed. He's really got a little bit different style and shift than I do."

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