West­min­ster’s John­son stands out two ways for Hop­kins

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Pat Stoet­zer

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.


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