Xavian Johnson is a freshman, but he is already having a big impact on the Weber State University Football Team this season.
Head Coach Ron McBride said that once he saw Johnson perform in high school, there wasn’t much question that McBride wanted him for the team.
“He was a pretty easy guy to recruit because he stood out,” McBride said. “It wasn’t like you had to keep looking for reasons to recruit him, once you watched him it was like, ‘yeah, that’s the guy we want.’”
McBride said that he was impressed by Johnson’s athleticism. The first time McBride saw Johnson in person, he was at a high school basketball practice. McBride said that during that practice, Johnson made everything look easy.
“They were doing line touches at the end of practice,” McBride said, “and they had a really athletic team at his high school, and he was winning all his line touches by a good ten yards at least, and he didn’t look like he was putting a lot of effort into it. He was just smooth.”
In his first game for WSU, Johnson, who is a native of Las Vegas, Nev., had an impressive performance for the ‘Cats. He racked up 118 yards from seven catches. Johnson had two touchdowns in a game, running for a combined 83 yards on those two catches.
McBride said that despite Johnson’s young age, McBride still expects big things from him this season.
“I expect a lot from him,” McBride said. “He’s the starting wide receiver so he better produce. It doesn’t matter whether he’s a freshman or a sophomore, but if you’re in the starting role, you better produce.”
Following the Wildcats’ loss against Wyoming, Johnson was rewarded for his performance by being named National Freshman of the Week for his stellar performance against the Cowboys. His first touchdown of the game came in the second quarter when he caught a 35-yard pass. The second one came in the fourth quarter after catching a 49-yard pass from quarterback Mike Hoke, which gave the Wildcats a late lead.
Johnson chose WSU because of the atmosphere when he came and toured campus. He said that he loved the attitude of the team and the coaching staff.
“I felt comfortable around the players and coaches,” Johnson said. “While on my visit, they made me feel like I was a member of the team already.”
Johnson, as well as his teammates, have high expectations for his future at WSU.
“My goals would be to break records,” Johnson said. “I want to be able to do things other people can’t do. I just want my name to be heard. I want people to know who that Johnson kid is.”
Brian Jankowski, a junior tight end for the Wildcats, said that Johnson is already making an impact on the team and that he is a good teammate who looks out for others.
“He (Johnson) is a great teammate,” Jankowski said. “I love him. I know he has my back on the field and in return I have his.” Jankowski believes that, “He has a really bright future, he’s already done some impressive things here and if he can keep his focus on the right things, he could have a really great career here at Weber State.”
Johnson’s impact extends further than the football field. McBride spoke highly of his character and his attitude off the field as well.
“He’s a very genuine kid,” McBride said. “He’s soft spoken, funny, he’s got a good personality. He’s just a regular teenager I guess, but he’s a really good person.”
The Wildcats will play their first home game of the season on Saturday when they take on Sacramento State University at Stewart Stadium. McBride said that the team had a good week of practice and expects Johnson to have a strong game in the conference opener.