BYU corner Jordan Johnson expects to play against UConn for 'homecoming' game

By Jeff Call, Deseret News

Published: Thu, Aug. 7, 2014, 7:50 p.m. MDT

 Defensive back Jordan Johnson is interviewed during BYU Football Media Day in Provo, Monday, June 23, 2014.

Defensive back Jordan Johnson is interviewed during BYU Football Media Day in Provo, Monday, June 23, 2014.

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

PROVO — One week into fall camp, BYU’s projected starter at field cornerback, senior Jordan Johnson, has been mostly limited to noncontact drills and conditioning work and he hasn’t been practicing with the first-team defense.

Johnson said he “feels 100 percent” after missing the entire 2013 season due to a knee injury suffered in fall camp a year ago. He said he’s not sure why he’s seen limited action in practice.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what (the coaches) are doing,” Johnson said. “I know come game time, I’ll be with the ones. ... I’m confused as much as you all are. I’m just taking it day-by-day.”

On the first day of fall camp last Friday, running back Jamaal Williams told reporters that he would be suspended for the season opener at UConn on Aug. 29 due to an honor code violation.

Many have speculated that the same fate could befall Johnson, as well as a couple of other projected defensive starters who haven’t been running with the first team.

But Johnson said Thursday he expects to be on the field for the opener against the Huskies.

The UConn contest holds special meaning for Johnson, and not just because it will be his first football game since the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl.

Johnson hails from Springfield, Massachusetts, which is about a 30-minute drive from East Hartford, Connecticut, making it a homecoming game of sorts for him.

“I plan on going back home and playing in front of my family,” Johnson said, adding that "the majority” of his family will be in attendance at Rentschler Field.

“I’m excited. It’s a long time coming,” Johnson said. “When that day comes, I’m going to be ready for the simple fact that I’m going back home and it’s my first game back.”

This is a game Johnson has had circled on his calendar since it was announced in March 2013.

“I was elated when I found out we were playing at UConn. So was my family,” Johnson said. “I heard we were playing them, and I called everyone. I told them I’m playing at UConn, and that’s right down the street. I wasn’t expecting that, to go home for my senior year. I haven’t been back home the past three or four years that I’ve been here (at BYU). It’s cool to go back to UConn, the school I wanted to go to out of high school.”

When coach Bronco Mendenhall has been asked about the status of players like Johnson, he said he’d rather not comment publicly about it.

“Most issues that we have in the program, I’d prefer to handle that all internally and as discreetly as possible,” Mendenhall said Tuesday. “What you can read into it is, we’re working on the development of players, the people, within the team setting and hopefully as privately as we can.”

In that same interview, when asked to assess the defensive secondary, Mendenhall said, “We know we have Jordan and Rob (Daniel) at the corner spots, and that’s a fantastic thing.”

Johnson tied for No. 11 nationally in pass breakups (15) for the Cougars in 2012.

Despite the long layoff due to the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, Johnson said he doesn’t feel rusty.

“The first day of camp, that was my first practice in a year,” he said. “But I feel confident. I feel back to where I should be. It was fun running around and being with the guys again.”

Johnson has been thinking about his return to the field “since the day it happened, since the first week of fall camp last year. Time has passed and here we are, the second week of fall camp. I’ve made it this far.”

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1. BigCougar
Bountiful, UT,
Aug. 7, 2014

I don't know if that's good news or not. He sounds frustrated and maybe is miffed with coaches and is spouting off like he has an understanding of one thing and is (like a defiant teen) going to do what he wants to do anyways.

Bronco doesn't say he's going to play in the UConn game. He's weirdly vague with his response.

Provo, UT,
Aug. 8, 2014

The Best Football team in Utah is BYU and they just got Better. Thank you Jordan Johnson.

3. jakartafan
Houston, TX,
Aug. 8, 2014

Whatever happened to Trent Trammel? A few months ago there was a lot of talk about him playing a key role in the secondary, but now he doesn't seem to be in the mix.

4. 10CC
Bountiful, UT,
Aug. 8, 2014

When Jamaal Williams announced his own suspension publicly, Bronco seemed quite surprised when reporters asked him about it.

Much like Whittingham not discussing injuries and player availability, it looks like BYU is restricting information opponents have about who will be playing.

The problem with doing that is your fanbase has expectations about how the team will do, and they envision certain players making a difference. At game time when expected players don't suit up, anger follows, greatly exacerbated if it becomes a loss.

5. Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 8, 2014

Sounds like bronco is keeping up his "great" communication skills.

When your own players are saying they have no idea whats going on - speaks volumes about the coach! He sounds pretty miffed to me.