The Emergence of Will Johnson

Since 2001, passing at Mountaineer Field has been few and far between. Really, only Chris Henry could be considered a star receiver under Rich Rodriguez. On a lesser scale, Miquelle Henderson and Brandon Myles had some success at the position. And occaisionally, Travis Garvin would make a catch in space and run like he stole something — which, we would find out years later, was especially appropriate.

But within that lack of a passing game, there lay an even bigger hole in WVU’s playbook: anything involving a tight end. Sure, we would insert a TE as a glorified offensive lineman, but very, very rarely did one ever catch a pass. Besides annoying the hell out of me, it also allowed the defense to focus on one less offensive threat.

Well, opposing defenses, the TE is alive and well in Morgantown. Thank Will Johnson.

Had it been six months ago when Will Johnson was asked to move from wide receiver to tight end his reaction may not have been favorable. If you are a football player and you want the ball in your hands, going to Siberia for the summer may be much more appealing than playing tight end the way West Virginia used them in the past.

But today with Jeff Mullen spreading the football around like jelly and Associate Head Coach Doc Holliday now working with the tight ends/fullbacks, the sun is once again shining on those West Virginia tight ends. Trade in your full-cage face masks and your number 74 jerseys, WVU’s tight ends are back in business.

Hallelujah says Johnson.

“I’m excited about it now because I’m getting the ball a lot. I’m catching onto it. It is fun and I like it,” Johnson said after Saturday’s practice.

Not only is Will Johnson playing TE, he’s also getting reps at departed Owen Schmitt’s FB position, making him more of an H-back.

Personally, when I think recent college H-back, I think of Vernon Davis, the do everything standout at Maryland. Now, I’m not saying Johnson has Davis potential, but if he brings just half as much talent to the position, WVU will be a much more dangerous offense.



16 Responses

  1. There are no comments yet because no one knows what to say about a TE story in the context of West Virginia football.

  2. A playing TE @ Wvu is like stories of Bigfoot. I won’t believe it until I see it…

  3. You youngsters just aren’t old enough to remember one of the most glorious moments for a tight end in Mountaineer history. In 1975, TE Randy Swinson (who lived down the hall from me in Towers) made a leaping catch of a Dan Kendra pass to set up Bill McKenzie’s last – second field goal to beat Tony Dorsett’s Pitt team. Video of the game is here, but doesn’t show Randy’s catch:

    If you look real hard, you can see me in the mob of students who stormed the field after the upset victory.

  4. You must mean a downfield threat at WR, cause Darius Reynaud was a star reciever.

  5. 25314,

    You’re right, I did mean downfield threat. Reynaud certainly qualifies as a star.

  6. what’s a tight end?

  7. I’m concerned about ALL of this talk about a NEW offense. I thought we were going to keep as much of the old spread offense in place as possible.

    We ARE NOT talking about a run and gun, basketball on grass type of throwing offense … are we?????

    I still want the goal to be 300 yards rushing every game.

  8. i agree 100% with sg44gold. We have had explosive offenses now for a few years and we get excited over WILL JOHNSON? are you frickin kiddin me? I have a BAD feelin we are going back to the NEHLEN style offense where you could sit in your living room and PREDICT the next play.

  9. Are you serious? You’re worried that adding a new wrinkle to our spread offense is going to make us more predictable? Shouldn’t it be the opposite?

  10. I can predict our former coaches first ten plays in his next game.
    I’ll give you a hint: three will be bubble screens.

    I’m pretty sure we’ll be less predictable and less “one dimensional.”

  11. Nebraska had a top tier football program until they stopped being one dimensional. WVU has been in the top 10 in scoring with a one dimensional offense. I’m not opposed to keeping a defense honest, but I share the concerns of sg44gold.

  12. I am excited about seeing the spread offense involve passing. And not just to ONE guy, but to a bunch. SPREADING the ball around is nothing but good.

    BUT, only three things happen on a pass play, and two of them aren’t good.

    The five yard slant is what we have been missing. It will really open the field for Devine and White to make even bigger plays.

  13. Now that the spread is more popular, people have figured out how to stop the ‘dynamic’ Mountain offense (see loses to Pitt, USF). I’m pretty excited about the possibility of throwing the ball more – and it will also prepare Pat White more for the NFL.

    Other teams all over the country throw the ball a whole hell of a lot more than the ‘eers and they seem to do okay…just a thought. Change is hard, but this is a step in a good direction.

  14. Ever since anthony becht dropped that pass securing a home loss to navy, I have been more than ok with the lack of a te in the o.

  15. a truly gifted tight end can make an offense even more dominant than ours usually is….anyone remember Pope from UGA in the Sugar Bowl

  16. I love your videos, but UGA wasn’t running the no huddle zone read spread option. I’m excited we will have more weapons in our arsenal but I hope we don’t get too obsessed with adding “wrinkles” and get away from the bread and butter of our offense – sick runs by Pat and Noel.

    Anyone have any information on how Johnson’s blocking is going?

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