Johnny Johnson III was the last Duck off the field as his team fell in the Fiesta Bowl to Iowa State 34-17 on Jan. 2. He said the decision of whether to turn pro or return for a fifth season was “weighing heavy” on him.
“Just seeing that confetti going in the air and it wasn’t us celebrating, it kind of just sat with me the wrong way,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, that helped make my decision because I didn’t want to end that way as a Duck, and I want to do great things here.”
The Chandler, Ariz. native is poised to do just that with the incoming and returning talent at the wide receiver position in 2021. 4-star freshmen Dont’e Thornton and Troy Franklin join an already packed wide receiver room that returns Johnson and fellow fifth-year senior Jaylon Redd.
“[Troy’s] hands are second to none,” Johnson said. “Dont’e is doing a great job, and he’s making plays for us.
“They’re hungry,” Johnson said of the freshman duo. “They’re both doing a great job, and they’ve taken in a lot of the coaching.”
Given his experience, Johnson has taken on a leadership role with the young receivers. He compared his new role to learning from a future NFL draft pick.
“I was one of those young guys when Royce Freeman was in the locker room,” Johnson said. “The younger guys get to learn a lot from the older guys, so I think it’s going to do nothing but make this team even stronger and help us win games.”
The wide receiver room is one of the deepest in the program’s recent memory, with the aforementioned seniors and freshmen, as well as Devon Williams, Mycah Pittman, Kris Hutson, and others. Year two in Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead’s scheme promises to be something special, Johnson said.
“I think we can be one of those groups that goes down in history,” Johnson said. “We’re going to be one of those groups that is talked about for a long time.”
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