It was a year that the Byrnes Rebels were supposed to be vulnerable. The Rebels had a storybook run over the past decade but this past season was to be a "down year" for the team. You couldn't tell that to the Rebels and their fans however. You especially couldn't say that to the players that returned this season like 2012 DE/LB Jamaal Johnson who helped power the Rebels to yet another AAAA Division 1 state championship.
"It felt great and the whole year we were counted as underdogs but we use that as motivation. We worked hard everyday in practice and it showed when we played," Johnson told us.
Johnson lined up for the Rebels as a defensive end but at 5'11 220 pounds barring a tremendous growth spurt over the offseason will be recruited as a linebacker for the next level. After the junior season he had this year we think he's more than capable of making the move.
"I finished with 85 tackles, 20 for loss, 15 sacks, and a fumble recovery this season."
The 2012 standout says he realizes that he'll more than likely end up as a linebacker on the next level and he's more than comfortable with the switch. Johnson says linebacker is his position of preference but is willing to do what is necessary to help the Rebels win ball games by playing defensive end.
He reflected back on his most memorable performance of the season for us.
"My best game was against Maudlin. I had 3 sacks and 8 tackles in the first half. It was memorable because it was in front of the home crowd and I love that environment."
The ultimate satisfaction for Johnson and his teammates was winning another AAAA Division 1 state championship for the Rebels. He talked about the battle towards that title.
"It felt great and the whole year we were counted as underdogs but we used that as motivation, and we worked hard everyday in practice and it showed when we played."
Having had such a successful season Johnson will be opening more eyes with another season to go next year. So far Johnson says he has yet to hear from any colleges to this point. That should change once his highlight film starts to circulate. Knowing that college coaches will more than likely recruit him at linebacker Johnson talked about the aspects that he'll work on the most this offseason. He also shared with us what his outlook is for this Byrnes teammates that will return with him next year as well.
"I will work a lot on mainly my speed and technique. I really don't know but we have a lot of people coming back so we just going to work hard and try to repeat as champs again."
Johnson says although he's yet to hear from any colleges yet he'd like to hear from the in-state powers like Clemson and South Carolina. Distance won't be a factor for Johnson as he's open to anyone and everyone who is looking for a linebacker with big time ballhawking and playmaking skills.
What does Johnson feel is his biggest strength on the football field?
"My motor. I never stop until the play is over. I go hard every play."
Education will be one of the biggest factors for Johnson when looking at potential colleges he says.
Stay tuned to SCPrepNation.com and the Scout.com team as we'll have junior season highlights of Johnson soon.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS...JAMAAL JOHNSON
Bench press max: 275 pounds
Squat max: 420 pounds
Power clean max: 242 pounds
Fastest 40 time: 4.66 seconds
Pro shuttle: 4.22 seconds
Vertical: 29.5 inches
A CLOSER LOOK...JAMAAL JOHNSON
Favorite football player: Tom Brady
Favorite college football team: Ohio State
Favorite thing to do when not playing football: play video games
Favorite subject in school: math
Favorite food: chicken
Favorite movie: Transporter 2
Dream date would be with: Meagan Good