Today: Jun 18, 2024

Owl Spotting: Owls defender and a volunteer

Photo courtesy Sam-uel Johnson
Sam-uel Johnson led the Owls with 76 tackles last season.

DANIELLE VOLLONOSpecial to the Southern News
Looking beyond the All NEC-10, All ECAC and Defensive Player of the Year award, Sam-uel Johnson is more than an inside linebacker at Southern—he is a mentor.
As a 23-year-old senior and recreation and leisure major, Johnson finds a balance between his football career and helping others, particularly the youth.
When he is at his home in Newark, N.J., he volunteers his time at the Westward Little League baseball and youth football programs.
“I try and live my life as a testimony for others so they can say ‘If he can do it then why can’t I?’” said Johnson.
Aside from that, Johnson dedicates his time once a year to Project Grad, a non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of public education for economically disadvantaged children.
“I try and help the youth as best as I know how,” said Johnson.
Over the past three years, he has been working in Norwalk at the Nathaniel Ely Neighborhood Center where his job is to supervise and mentor the youth as well as teach them the fundamentals of sports.
Before entering his freshman year at Southern in 2007, Johnson suffered through a cracked clavicle and shattered shoulder blade. At that point, he was unsure of whether he would be able to get back on the football field.
“I was told I wasn’t able to play football anymore. I accepted the fact that my doctor had told me my career was over … but I knew it wasn’t.”
From then on, Johnson worked hard in rehab and was determined not to let the injury prevent him from pursuing his passion for football. Johnson said he would fight, sweat, suffer through the pain if it meant getting him back in his football pads.
After months of working hard in rehab, despite having three rods and a steel plate in his clavicle, scapula and humerus, Johnson was ready to get back on the field. Not only is he a great example off the football field, he is on the field as well.
Chris Lorenti, Southern linebacker coach and alumni, has been a coach to Johnson as well as a teammate.
“Sam is the kind of player that you learn from just by watching him play,” said Lorenti. “I can teach a technique or a general concept; Sam will take it and use it. Then you’ll see him do things on the field.”
Lorenti said he feels Johnson is a great asset to the team. Rather than ignoring criticism, he takes it and applies it.
“He’s a good teammate. He came a long way from his early years here and has seen a lot. A lot of good years where he saw how it should be done and some bad years where he learned how it shouldn’t be done,” said Lorenti. “He has learned and applied it to the field and to his leadership role. I have fun watching him play … that doesn’t happen often,”
Johnson said his goals for the upcoming season are to get over 100 tackles, be an inspirational and motivational leader to the team, win the national championship and have his grandmother and great-grandmother in the stands during a game.
Johnson expects to graduate in May and pursue a career in helping children through recreation.

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