Central quarterback signs with WSSU
Justin Johnson simply wants to be on the football field. Whether it’s at lineman, halfback, receiver or quarterback, he will do whatever it takes to be part of the action.
That is a big reason why he has helped High Point Central be so successful in recent years and why he has signed to continue his football career with Winston-Salem State University of the NCAA Division II.
“I just like the sport. It excites me,” says Johnson, the son of Stephanie Hiatt and Robin Johnson. “Hopefully I can go to the next level after college, not to look too far in the future. But my goal is to start for coach (Connell) Maynor and do what I can do.”
Johnson, who also credits his grandmother Maxine Waldon, grew up playing baseball before taking up football in the seventh grade for James McLean, now the receivers coach at Central. He played offensive line that year before splitting time at quarterback and halfback the following year.
At Central, Johnson played one year of quarterback on the junior varsity team before moving up to the varsity. Bison coach Wayne Jones initially started Johnson at wide receiver to get him on the field and used to the varsity game. His junior and senior years, he finally settled in at quarterback.
“I feel a lot better playing football, I don’t know why,” says Johnson, who is also a standout in indoor and outdoor track. I just feel like my abilities are in football. And the contact — I like contact. I’m not afraid to get hit or hit someone. So, it’s pretty fun.”
With the Bison, Johnson was twice named All-Piedmont Triad 4A Conference and twice earned team offensive MVP. Central finished in the top four in the PTC all three years, including second behind state-ranked East Forsyth in 2012, and reached the third round of the state playoffs in 2010.
“Over the last couple years, he’s probably been the biggest part of our offense,” Jones says. “The offense went as he went. With him being a running and throwing quarterback, that dual threat put a lot of pressure on teams.
“He’s a good athlete. His mom was a good athlete when she was at High Point Central. His uncle was a good skater, and Justin was a good skater too when he was younger. It’s just one of those things where he’s been around sports since he was young, and he’s just continued to shine and flourish.”
Although he was originally looking at Elon, Johnson switched gears after things didn’t pan out with the Phoenix and looked instead at schools including Catawba and Southern University. He felt like the Rams, who reached the FCS championship game this year, suited him the best.
“Academics, first of all,” says Johnson, who wants to major in justice studies. “Their coach was saying how they’re doing great things with their academics. And then their football team is doing excellent — playing for the national championship, winning conference. They’re just doing big things on and off the field.”