Lonnie Johnson Jr. did not hear his name as high as some experts predicted on Thursday night but the former JUCO cornerback is not worried about that.
After being selected with the #54 overall pick by the Houston Texans, Johnson feels lucky to even make it out of his hometown, Gary, Indiana.
In his introductory conference call with the media, Johnson told reporters, “I worked hard, man. Everything it took to get here, everything I’ve been through. I’m just at a loss for words right now. Like I really just don’t even know what to say.”
Johnson did not take a traditional path to the NFL as he was forced to go the JUCO route due to academics. He excelled at Garden City in 2015 but still failed to qualify academically so he decided to sit out the 2016 season to focus on school.
The sacrifice paid off as he qualified academically, and reached a goal that seemed out of reach for so long.
“I almost gave it up at one point, junior college, because I kept getting knocked down every step I tried to take,” Johnson said. “Just stuck with it and ended up finally qualifying through school and got to Kentucky and doing the right thing.”
Houston met with Johnson several times over the past few months so it was no surprise that when they had back-to-back picks in the 2nd round his name was one of them.
Upon signing, Johnson will receive a $1.8 million bonus with a total value of $5.2 million on the 4 year contract.
With the departure of veteran corner Kareem Jackson in free agency, Johnson has a great chance to carve out a role as the Texans third cornerback, and as a solid special teams player.
Johnson is looking forward to playing with JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, telling reporters “Man, they’re going to be my best friends, they’ll help me make plays and I’m going to help them. I’m going to give them the time they need to get back there.”
Congratulations, and good luck to Lonnie throughout your NFL journey. The BBN is behind you.