Entering the season, fans were warned to remember the names Westry, Baity and Edwards as they made their rise to stardom. Today, a new name emerged that must be reckoned with: Lonnie Johnson Jr.
The junior college transfer had a long way to go, but he’s getting there much quicker than expected. Forced to stay on the sidelines last year to strictly focus on academics, coaches pumped the brakes on early expectations. Today, he exceeded those expectations, and then some.
Johnson had four tackles, a pass break up and a tackle for loss that halted a second half Eastern Kentucky drive. The hard hit behind the line of scrimmage did not surprise his teammates.
“He’s a very physical corner and we need physical corners out there to re-route, come up and tackle,” Mike Edwards said.
How physical? Let Derrick Baity explain: “Lonnie is a very physical player. He’s going to tell you, ‘I’m going to hit harder than you.’ No man is just going to tell you that. So we bring it.”
Johnson’s infectious attitude is helping his teammates. His ability to move past mistakes helped him take a monumental step forward from week one to week two.
“The first game, I was kind of nervous. This game I had no type of jitters,” Johnson said. “I just went out there and played. I wasn’t afraid of making mistakes because you have to make a mistake every now and then. You can’t be perfect out there and that’s what I was trying to do in the first game.”
For the first time in a long time, Lonnie Johnson felt at home on a football field.
“I wasn’t satisfied with it so I just came out here and let loose. I’m trying to get back to my old ways,” Johnson said. “I didn’t play timid. I wasn’t nervous. I was just going out there trying to make plays and jump on things I didn’t do last week.”
One of those plays made an impact fans will forget. Johnson blocked a PAT to hold the Colonels to just 13 points. UK would eventually take a one-point lead and force EKU to press.
Today we saw the first of many impactful plays from a physical corner with a bright future.