D’Ernest Johnson epitomizes the very definition of the word versatile.
Because the University of South Florida sophomore running back and Immokalee grad is truly one of the most important players on the field for the Bulls.
“It’s being able to do anything coach tells you to do,” Johnson said on Monday of his role. “It’s going out there and making a play, being able to do everything I can possibly do.”
On Saturday, Johnson didn’t score once during the Bull’s 65-27 win over Cincinnati at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
But he did lead the team in all-purpose yardage, covering 71 yards on 11 carries, swiping two receptions for 29 yards and returning five kicks for a team-high 181 yards.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound running back posted 281 total yards for the Bulls on a day in which the team posted its highest scoring total against an FBS opponent in school history. With the win, the Bulls moved to 7-4 overall and 5-2 in the American Athletic Conference East division.
And that’s not by accident.
Over the season, Johnson has over 1,000 total yards on offense: 64 rushes for 273 yards and a touchdown, 22 catches for 288 yards and four touchdowns; and 16 kick returns for 466 yards, including a long of 56.
“They trust me to go out there and make things happen,” Johnson said of his versatile role, which at one point saw him tossing a touchdown pass against the University of Connecticut in October. “I give them trust and then I go out there and make it.”
Yet, his versatility ranges further even still.
He also has four tackles in special teams play, too. He had a tackle against Cincinnati, where his brother, Tshumbi, also plays.
“It’s a dream come true,’ Johnson said of playing against his brother. “All brothers want to get a chance to play against each other. I’m very blessed to be on the same field as him and to have played against him.”
USF has one more regular season game against the University of Central Florida on Nov. 26.
With a win, the Bulls could tie their most since 2010, when they went 8-5.
Barnes dismissed from Duke
Duke announced on Tuesday that starting receiver Johnell Barnes, a Dunbar grad, was dismissed from the program.
“This is not a reaction to anything that has occurred during the last couple weeks,” Blue Devils head coach David Cutliffe said.
He added: “With this circumstance, it had reached a point where it was in their best interest, and certainly the program’s best interest, to move forward somewhere else.”
Barnes was second on the team with 34 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns.
Navy continues tear with Binn’s help
Navy defeated Tulsa 44-21 on Saturday to improve to 9-1 overall and 7-0 in the American Athletic Conference.
Success in large part has come from stellar offensive line play, which has been aided by starting left guard E.K. Binns, an Island Coast graduate. He’s helped the Midshipmen to the third best rushing offense in the NCAA this year with 348.4 yards per game.
The 6-foot-3, 295 pound senior has been a big part in an offense that has exploded for 416 yards per game and leads the AAC in rushing. Navy also is in the hunt for a major bowl game as the season winds to a close.
Johnson keeps Arizona in it
Island Coast grad Tyrell Johnson, a change-of-pace pound wide receiver who returns kicks for the Wildcats, scored late in the fourth quarter against Arizona State on Saturday in a 52-37 loss at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.
Johnson had one return for 19 yards and a touchdown grab for 17 yards with 6:50 left in the final frame that cut the deficit to eight points.
Lunsford crucial in win
Evangelical Christian School grad John Lunsford was pivotal in Liberty University’s 24-21 upset win over Coastal Carolina on Thursday at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Lunsford nailed a 28-yard field goal with 14:56 left in the fourth quarter and also went 3-for-3 in the game, giving the Chanticleers just their second loss of the season. With the win, Liberty moved to 6-5. It was Liberty’s second straight over Coastal Carolina in two years.
Simmons with monumental game
No. 11 North Carolina silenced an emotional crowd at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia on Saturday, beating Virginia Tech 30-27 in head coach Frank Beamer’s last home game with the Hokies.
A Lehigh grad had his best game to date in the win. Starting cornerback Malik Simmons logged 11 tackles and also had two break ups.
North Carolina moved to 10-1 with the win and inched closer to a major bowl game with the victory.
Return artists stand out
Boston College freshman and Naples grad Michael Walker had a 67 yard kick return for the Eagles during a 19-16 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame at Fenway Park on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Akron freshman and Island Coast grad Van Edwards returned a kick for 16 yards in a 42-21 win over Buffalo.
Walker finished with four returns for 110 yards, while Edwards had two returns for 28 yards.