Greg Johnson’s impact on both sides of the ball

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Springwood has gotten an incredible amount of production from new additions this season. Greg Johnson has added an extra element for the Wildcats on both sides of the ball. 

On the season, Johnson has seven touchdowns on offense, seven sacks on defense, and he’s averaged just over five tackles per game. 

Johnson and his brother, CJ Johnson, transferred to Springwood from Opelika before this school year began. They both have become integral parts of the school and the athletic program. 

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“He did a great job coming in and fitting in with our kids,” Springwood coach Joey Burch said. “The whole team is kind of like that this year, that’s why it’s such a joy to coach them. Greg’s been a big part of that.”

The adjustment from a 7A school to a small school in the AISA would be hard for most people, but it was not a challenge for Johnson. It was more of an opportunity than a challenge. The school has opened up avenues for Johnson on the football field, and the family-like environment has made it easy for him to call Springwood home. 

“It wasn’t really hard,” Johnson said. “It was more of just a change in atmosphere. Coming from a big school like that, we just had to adjust to smaller environments. They have welcomed us with open arms. A whole lot of support for anything that we do.” 

Despite being new to the team, Johnson has not been one to shy away from leadership. Johnson quickly got to work in the weight room and on the practice field. Early on, he tried to show his teammates that he could be trusted to make plays and to lead. 

“When it needs to be said, he speaks up and says things, but a lot of times it’s by his actions,” Burch said. “He shows up on time, he works hard. He’s great in the looker room, the weight room and on the practice field.”

After he felt like he earned the trust of his teammates, Johnson had no problem with being vocal and saying what needed to be said. 

“I think I stepped right into it,” Johnson said. “I’ve been like this for a long time.” 

The change of scenery gave CJ and Greg an opportunity to showcase their talents for the first time. At Opelika, Greg had been placed on the offensive line. He never felt like that position was meant for him, and Johnson knew there were better ways for him to impact the game. 

“They already knew what positions we wanted to play, and we knew we could affect the game like that,” Greg Johnson said. “Just coming to a different environment and giving us a shot to show our talents really helped us.” 

On defense, Johnson has been a Swiss army knife for the Wildcats. The coaching staff has been able to move him around the field to negate the opposing offense’s biggest threat. 

“We can move him around, put him where the biggest threat is,” Burch said. “He’s a big threat because of his speed and strength coming off the corner. If he doesn’t get to them, he can raise his arms up, and he makes it very difficult for the quarterback to throw over him.”

With seven touchdowns, Johnson has been just as effective on the offensive side. His size has made it nearly impossible for opposing defenses. 

“Cornerbacks have a tough time guarding him,” Burch said. “Anytime we want to pick up some yardage, we feel confident that we can throw it to him, and he’s going to make that play.” 

Still, even with the success this season, Johnson still believes there are several ways to improve his game. The coaching staff has helped Johnson make those improvements. Johnson hopes to continue working to become Springwood’s anchor on defense and more of a threat on offense. 

“Really just working on how I affect the game,” Johnson said. “They’ve been helping me a lot, giving me a whole lot of tools to affect the game.” 

The feeling around Springwood this season has been championship or bust. After falling in the championship last season, every coach and athlete has been focusing on getting back to the title game and coming out on top. 

Johnson and everyone else believe that talent is not a problem for the Wildcats. Johnson believes that the key to getting over the hump is just showing up for practice every day and putting in the necessary work. 

“It feels like most of the people coming back, they’re real hungry to get a championship,” Johnson said. “I really think it’s the effort.”