Westminster’s Johnson stands out two ways for Hopkins
Jim Margraff remembers watching high school football film of Dan Johnson, and the Johns Hopkins coach liked what he saw.
Many coaches have had similar feelings about Johnson, a lifelong football player. From his youth days with Gamber-Smallwood, to starring at Westminster High School, and now with the Blue Jays, Johnson has shined at multiple positions.
Margraff took notice. And Johnson is still shining.
The former Owls All-Carroll County player is part of the Blue Jays’ winningest class, and he has helped the team NCAA Division III first-round game reach the NCAA Division III postseason once again. Johns Hopkins (10-0) hosts Randolph-Macon (9-1) on Saturday at noon at Homewood Field.
Hopkins completed four straight years of undefeated regular seasons with last week’s 48-28 win over McDaniel, Johnson’s hometown team. Johnson, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior defensive back, had two tackles, a fumble recovery
and a half-sack against the Green Terror.
He also played on special teams, where Margraff continues to be impressed with Johnson’s ability.
“If there’s five kickoffs, he’s making the tackle or impacting the runner on every one of them,” Margraff said. “It’s uncanny how he just moves through those blocking schemes and he’s always either there to make the tackle or force a guy to bounce to somebody else. ... Right from watching his film in high school, he was so productive on both sides of the ball. He’s just one of those guys that made plays all over the place defensively, and offensively he was very impressive. “We were happy to get him here.” That was four years ago, and Johnson hasn’t slowed. He worked his way into a starting role on defense by showcasing solid special teams skills. Johnson has 57 tackles (eight for loss), 3.5 sacks, two passes defended and a fumble recovery this season.
He made four interceptions a year ago and finished with 61 tackles, earning second-team All-Centennial Conference honors.
This fall, Johnson received a first-team all-conference nod on defense.
“His skill set is incredibly invaluable to us,” Margraff said. “We’ve had some success lately. And I think in a perfect world a guy comes in and just works his tail off for a couple years, and then finally gets his chance. He has been that and more.
“He’s a terrific team leader, the guys love him.”
The Blue Jays’ senior class is 42-3 since arriving on campus in 2013, tied for the most wins by a class in Hopkins and conference history.
“Early on in my career at Hopkins, I knew that there were some great players in front of me,” Johnson said. “I kind of just tried to make an impact where I could. I was on the special teams. My hard work just paid off. ... Wherever they put me, I just try to do the best I can and make an impact for the team.” Westminster alumnus Dan Johnson, at left in practice for Johns Hopkins, has 57 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two passes defended and a fumble recovery this season.
Johnson continues to make an impact off the field, too. He said he’s busy completing his double major in electrical and computer engineering — Johnson spent time in a school group that created a robot tour guide for the campus, and he’s working on another project in his Robotics Sensors and Actuators class.
Johnson’s GPA is above 3.3, and he has intern experience at a pair of engineering companies.
Those statistics are typical for Johns Hopkins athletes, and they make Margraff smile.
“I went to school here,” the coach said. “I wasn’t doing those things.”
Margraff would reach 200 career wins if Hopkins beats Randolph-Macon on Saturday. And the Blue Jays would advance in the NCAA playoffs, something they have done in only four previous tournaments.
The Jays have made seven NCAA playoff appearances, with a 5-7 record.
“Every week we just talk about going 1-0 this week,” Johnson said. “We’re not looking too far ahead. Just take care of each game, week in and week out.
“We think this is our year. We can maybe break through into the third round or even deeper in the playoffs.”
Senior Dan Johnson began his college career on special teams, where he still plays, and was named first-team All-Centennial Conference this year as a defensive back.