Mississippi State had several standouts in its 24-10 win over the NC State Wolfpack, including redshirt junior linebacker Jett Johnson.
Johnson finished the night with 9 combined tackles (5 solo, 0.5 for loss) -- the second-most on the team and the equivalent of his 2020 production -- with one pass breakup and one forced fumble. The Tupelo product was also effective in the season-opener against LA Tech, with 4 combined tackles (2 solo).
Johnson said he and the defense came into the game prepared for the challenge against a team that was coming off a 45-0 shutout win with a ground game that posted nearly 300 yards in the victory over the Bulls.
"Everybody knows they had a tremendous weekend (against USF) and about those two power backs they've got," Johnson said. "We knew it was going to be a huge challenge so we stepped up to the plate and we played well collectively as a team and as a defensive unit."
This is the start of what looks like could be a big year for Johnson, as he's in the midst of his fourth season with the Bulldogs.
Head coach Mike Leach had high praise for Johnson after he really stepped up in Saturday night's home victory. Johnson has embodied "consistency" to this point, something that Bulldogs coaches have continuously harped on both ahead of the season and since it has been underway.
"One thing he does is be the same guy, every single day, every single play," Leach said. "There’s a reliability with that, a consistency with that. He always hits with the same speed, full speed. The NFL is full of guys like that. They’re full of Jett Johnsons. Guys that aren’t the fastest, but he’s the same guy every play. He’s something you can rely on. Something you can expect every time. You get the occasional great guy who does the play that few others can do, but he only does it one every seven times. Pretty soon, you’re off the field."
Johnson has kept his head down and patiently waited for his chance to become a player earning this type of recognition, and it's obviously paid off so far.
"I've waited my turn here," Johnson said. "This was my dream school, so I knew this was where I wanted to be and when I came in, we had some really good linebackers... I've trusted the process and worked hard every day, kind of a blue-collar mentality. I'm thankful that coach (Zach Arnett) has trusted me and put me in bigger roles this season so I'm trying to make the best of my opportunity."
Expect Johnson to continue to come into his own as the Bulldogs hit the road for the first time this season to face the Memphis Tigers on Saturday in Liberty Bowl Stadium.