“Hectic” is the word Zeandae Johnson used to describe his life these days.
But the former Cal defensive end isn’t complaining. He’s loving his life right now.
Officially signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent. Johnson was all smiles during a media Zoom call on Wednesday while talking about all the changes in his world.
He called getting the chance to play for Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson “a dream come true.” He was thrilled to be going to the same NFL franchise as Cal teammate Camryn Bynum, chosen Saturday in the fourth round of the draft.
And he’s fired up to become a father for the first time this summer. His girlfriend Cass Zazueta is due to deliver daughter Amari is due on August 6.
“It’s something I’m prepared for, maturity-wise,” Johnson said of the prospect of parenthood. “I feel like it gave me a new fire, a new hunger. Now I have not only my hunger, but her hunger, too.”
“(It’s) a double-whammy on the rookie season, but I think I’m going to get through it just fine.”
Johnson said he heard from the Vikings late in the day Saturday, before the draft was over. They offered him a contract and he went for it.
He will work under Patterson, a veteran D-line coach who has worked every level from high school through college and the pros for nearly four decades.
Patterson has coached the likes of John Randle and Chris Doleman.
“A defensive line guru,” Johnson called him. He is a genius and he develops talent like nobody’s ever seen. What he does with his players, it’s undeniable.”
Johnson said he’s undaunted by the chilly Minnesota winters and is excited to have a friend and teammate on the roster.
“It’s not every day you get the opportunity to play in the NFL, let alone with someone you know,” he said in the video above on reuniting with Bynum. “We’re going to be rookies together. It’s going to be a good time. I know me and Cam are going to have some good laughs up there.”
Johnson, 23, came to Cal from Fresno and spent six seasons on campus. He secured two undergrad degrees and contributed to improving a Cal defense that was in shambles when he arrived on campus in 2015.
Johnson talks in the video below about his experience in Berkeley:
The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder played 41 games with 18 starts and totaled 59 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He was named defensive player of the game after Cal’s win over Illinois in the 2019 Redbox Bowl.
Cal offensive lineman Jake Curhan reportedly will sign a free-agent deal with the Seattle Seahawks, but the team has yet to make a public announcement.
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo