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.”