First there was the Fridge. Now, one Indiana high school is taking the lineman-as-running back gimmick and turning it into a legitimate offensive package.
Gary Calumet (Ind.) running back Joshua “Bubba” Johnson tips the scales at 6-foot-3 and 349 pounds. Yes, 349. For reference sake, that’s almost exactly the same size as William “the Refridgerator” Perry, the legendary Chicago Bears goal line rushing star of the 1986 Super Bowl season.
Even more than the size similarities, Johnson stands out for his remarkable athleticism at his size. While he’s built as a nose tackle, the senior can scoot like a much more nimble running back, and that’s how he’s being used in the team’s “Flex” packages, per the Northwest Indiana Times.
“I’m a point guard at heart, so I always challenge myself to do little-guy things,” Johnson told the Times. “I’ve got good footwork, and I’ve got good balance, so I just challenge myself to do something new every day, and when the opportunity presented itself for me to run the ball, I said, ‘Hell yeah.’”
Johnson finished Friday night’s Calumet loss to Griffith with six carries for 48 yards and a touchdown, which you can see above. All were impressive, the latest in the evolution of Griffith’s running future. What started as a short-yardage gimmick has now fully evolved into a truly legitimate role. And while Calumet coach Rick Good told the Times Johnson’s offensive set was “crazy,” he also acknowledged it’s results were too compelling to simply overlook.
“It’s about as crazy as it gets with a 350-pound guy playing back there. He’s so smart and so adaptive to whatever we need him to do. He’s really a pretty special athlete. The electricity in the stadium once he gets past that first level, it’s really pretty crazy. It’s really cool.”
All acknowledge that Johnson’s future lies on a line, and with his size and athleticism there’s every chance it will bring with it collegiate opportunities. Still, for now Johnson, all his coaches and certainly the Calumet fans are very much enjoying his run in the offensive backfield, long may it continue.
“I believe in my coaches, and my coaches believe in me,” Johnson told the Times. “And whenever anyone offers me an opportunity, I’m going to take it.”