HP Central’s Johnson looks to get kicks with WSSU
Through everything, Will Johnson has been the kind of person to persevere. With football that has meant dedicating the time, the effort and the hard work to become one of the area’s top kickers.
Following an outstanding senior season, Johnson, a senior at High Point Central, has now signed to continue his football career at the next level with NCAA Division II powerhouse Winston-Salem State University.
“It feels great. It’s a good feeling to know that I’ll be playing at the next level,” says Johnson, who credits the support of his family, including grandmother Louise Johnson, aunts Vicki Johnson, Marcia Grashoff and husband Bob and Beverly Martin, for much of his success.
Johnson, whose father, Greg, recently passed away, started kicking in middle school as a side interest when he wasn’t playing soccer, which he started playing when he was 4 years old. As he’s grown up, he has dedicated more and more to it and seen greater success.
“I thought it’d be a nice hobby, and then turned into something pretty serious,” Johnson says. “It’s an art. It takes a lot of talent to kick. People don’t know how hard it is. So, I realized I was pretty good at kicking and I wanted to stick with it at the next level.”
The technique and mechanics for kicking a football are notably different from kicking a soccer ball — soccer’s a more rounded motion while football’s more up and through, he says — but Johnson, also a standout on the Central baseball team, dedicated himself to the pursuit.
As a senior, he was 9 for 9 on field goals — including a pair of 52-yarders — and also went 30 for 30 on extra points, totaling 57 points for the season in which he helped the Bison go 9-3, finish second in the loaded Piedmont Triad 4A Conference and reach the playoffs.
“It’s a weapon to have a person who can put you in good field position,” Central coach Wayne Jones says. “Punting the ball deep, kicking it into the end zone for no run-backs and then being able to kick field goals from 50-plus yards — that’s a plus every time you do it.
“Coaches are only as good as the players he has and Will’s been a good player for us. Having him as a kicker has been so beneficial for us for our field position. … It’s a game of inches and having a kicker like him changes everything.”
Johnson’s top colleges choices included WSSU and Catawba. But it was the Rams, who reached the DII national title game, and how he connected with their coaches, in addition to the school’s academics, that finally fulfilled Johnson’s drive to continue playing at the next level.
“I’ve always wanted to stick with it because once I start something I always want to finish it through everything,” says Johnson, who wants to study criminal justice. “It’s a really good feeling to know that I have the talent and ability to play at the next level.”