Scout's Take: Matt Johnson

Typically, we'll give a Scout's take on a high school prospect. Artie Rowell breaks down Matt Johnson's demeanor on the field and off the field. The two have been friends since their little league baseball days. You can make a case that both share another common bond--both had breakthrough sophomore years.

Two weeks ago, when this bowl matchup was announced, Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson took to Twitter to express his desire to play Pittsburgh in this bowl game.

"Please be Pitt. Remember when I was too short to play for you," Johnson tweeted.

Some players took it personal. One of them was Tyler Boyd. He says he didn't see the message, only hearing about it. Still, it was enough to irk him a little.

"I heard the quarterback was talking, and Pitt hadn't offered him," Boyd said. "When he was getting recruited, I guess he felt some type of way about that. I guess he's going to try and put it all out on the field, so we'll see what he's all about."

Center Artie Rowell has been put in a difficult place, as a result. Rowell grew up with Johnson, and says the two have remained close friends since their youth, despite going to different high schools.

"We played each other in little league--baseball, basketball, all that stuff," Rowell said. "I kind of know him there. We went to middle school together. He decided to go to Bishop McDevitt, the private school, and I went to the public school, Central Dauphin. I played against him all four years in high school. Good friend."

That of course meant the two friends would play against each other in high school--a clean split through four games.

"I won my freshman and senior year, they won his sophomore and junior years," Rowell said. "They had a couple of really good teams."

The two were teammates in the 2010 Chesapeake Bowl. Rowell was the center, Johnson was the quarterback. Also on the team, Pitt corner Lafayette Pitts.

Rowell said both his recruiting experience and Johnson's were similar.

"He had his options open," Rowell said of Johnson. "I don't think he was ever a die-hard Pitt fan. I think he always liked the school. I think he liked Coach Wannstedt a little bit. He didn't get too many offers, but there's a lot of guys who didn't get too many offers, like myself."

And if there's something that could bring these two friends even closer, it's been the fact they've both had breakthrough years as sophomores. After being locked in a spring football battle, and a training camp battle, Rowell won the starting center job and started all 12 games this year. He will certainly be a key piece to the puzzle, as the offensive line appears to be in good shape going forward.

In a Mid American Conference that includes Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch, Johnson's 3,195 yards, 23 touchdown passes were still not enough to garner him a spot on the first-, second- or third-team all-conference team.

Maybe winning the MAC title, and simply getting to a bowl game is the better honor. Or, according to Rowell, just simply finding a spot that fits you well.

"You get an opportunity, and you take it," Rowell "That's about all I can really say about that. Some guys any they're too short, or this or that. If you get the opportunity, you have to work hard and capture it."

One thing that might be odd, Pitt defensive players coming to the offensive center, Rowell, for advice on stopping a quarterback.

"He's a good athlete, great athlete," Rowell said. "He's a good kid. I know he said some things on Twitter, but it is what it is. It's college football. People have come up to me in the locker room, and said, 'what's up with that?' I can't defend him. I can only say he's a good guy."

Everything aside, Rowell says he's not surprised seeing Johnson guide his team to Thursday's Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, and he's not surprised to see I'm leading his team to a MAC title.

"I could only tell from watching in that MAC Championship Game, and he was impressive," Rowell said. "The things that he was doing in that game, looked like his high school days."


Panther More Top Stories