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  • Johnson earns respect, faith of teammates

    By LARRY VAUGHT

    After he hurt his left shoulder during a second-half run, quarterback Stephen Johnson had to leave the field to have his injury checked.

    Many speculated that he would not return -- even if Kentucky was trailing Tennessee. Johnson knew different.

    "I told him on the sideline to just get me in there to see whatís wrong and get me right back out. I mean, I definitely was going to continue playing this game," Johnson said. "I will always play if I can play. That's just no question, so I mean as soon as I know of went down and I told him to figure out what's wrong and send me back in."

    Fans at Kroger Field gave Johnson a huge ovation when he came back on the field before he went back into the game to replace backup Drew Barker.

    "It really warms your heart you know when you come on the field and you have all of BBN screaming and shouting. Theyíre just really excited for you, and I mean it was a very, very happy moment," Johnson said after Saturday's 29-26 win over Tennessee.

    Even defensive players like linebacker Denzil Ware wanted to cheer for Johnson.

    ďI believe we have a chance with any quarterback that we play. Stephen is just fan favorite. Heís a crowd favorite. He earned his job to be in the position that heís at. When youíre a starter and something bad happens like that and you come back in and do the things you do, of course the fans are going to be happy," Ware said.

    "At the end of the day, I have faith in any guy under the center. I have faith. I believe in my teammates and I trust my team. At the end of the day Iím glad that heís alright, but I have faith in any quarterback.Ē

    Maybe he said any quarterback, but Johnson is the one he trusts most because of his toughness. Ware called him a warrior.

    "Stephen had a rough life. He overcame a lot of things to get to where heís at now. Iíve seen him come from the bottom to the top. I see him lay it out on the line. That pushes other guys on the team, that pushes people out on the streets, that motivates other people just to see the things he overcame," Ware said.

    "Heís a great role model, heís a great leader on this team and at the end of the day heís just a tough guy. I see him run and hit up with linebackers, knowing he doesnít have a chance, he just lays it all out on the line and you canít ask for anything better than that.Ē

    Senior linebacker Courtney Love says he's never played with a tougher quarterback than Johnson.

    "He will let you know he is hurt but he doesnít care. ĎI am going to keep playing,' is what he will tell us," Love said. "It's impressive how tough he is. I am so appreciative to have him on our team and leading us.

    "Stephen is not soft. We usually think of quarterbacks that way but you canít do that. Guys want to play and they take a lot on their shoulders. We respect that."

    Johnson's first play back in the game, he faked to Benny Snell, read the defense and ran.

    "It surprised me a little bit but I was happy to see it. Something like that shows to the other team this guy is not done. He is going to keep going," Love said.

    Snell wasn't surprised by Johnson's grit to lead a winning drive or even run for the winning touchdown after being injured.

    ďStephenís a fighter. Heís just a tough guy. It was a run play, he made the right read, he pulled it, sacrificed his body, jumped in there and got an amazing touchdown. Iím glad that he was able to execute," Snell said.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Johnson earns respect, faith of teammates started by Darrell KSR View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Catfan73's Avatar
      Catfan73 -
      He's going to be a success at whatever he decides to do after his playing days are over. He's a natural born leader. Make a great coach.