Pat Johnson passed along great football genetics to his son, Drezden.
But at first, the former Purdue and Miami Dolphins player didn’t grant Drezden permission to use them.
“My dad didn’t really want me to play football when I was younger. He was afraid I was going to get hurt,” Drezden Johnson said. “He finally let me play halfway through my seventh-grade season, and since then he’s taught me a lot.”
Drezden Johnson begins his third season as Harrison’s starting free safety — the same position his father played. The Raiders also expect to use the speedy 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior more on offense.
After solid sophomore and junior performances, the Raiders are anxious to see what Johnson can do in his final year.
“He shows signs of brilliance, and it just has to be more consistent every day,” coach Tony Martin said. “When he flips the switch — oh yeah, he’s as good as there is in our league. But he has to make that an every-play thing.”
Johnson collected 75 tackles (59 solos), four pass breakups, one forced fumble and an interception as a junior.
With his combination of size and speed, Johnson’s physical play contrasts with his usually soft-spoken demeanor.
“He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s smart, he knows how to play the game,” junior Jeep Morehouse said. “… We can match him with anyone and he’ll compete with them.”
Johnson averaged 32 yards per kickoff return last season with a touchdown. His athletic tools are too enticing to keep on the sideline, so he’s expected to rotate at wingback with Morehouse, Nick Torres, Arrione Cook and Cameron Greene.
Yet the veteran’s intangible contributions may be just as important as his physical ones.
“Drezden’s a good leader,” junior cornerback Tanner Watkins said. “I’d say that was probably his biggest contribution. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, and he can really lead the defense. We can always look up to him as a role model.”