The offseason for the Weber State University football team will continue on Jan. 27, when Wildcats cornerback Taron Johnson takes the field in the Senior Bowl. Johnson became the fourth player in Weber State history to participate in the Senior Bowl.
“It’s a huge honor,” Johnson said. “I’m happy I got the opportunity to do something that has been a goal of mine for a while now.”
The Senior Bowl is played in Mobile, Alabama. The game showcases the top NFL Draft prospects who have completed their final season of college football.
“Taron Johnson is one of our best players for sure,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said. “He is one of the top (defensive backs) in the country at any level. He is the guy that we can put on a wide receiver and he pretty much locks down that whole side of the field.”
Johnson was a major part of the Wildcats’ success in 2017, as he was fifth on the team with 49 tackles, including 19 in three FCS playoff games. Johnson also intercepted three passes.
“(The season) has been great,” Johnson said. “I am so glad we got the opportunity to do something special, especially during my senior year.”
Johnson said one of his favorite aspects of playing cornerback is the in-game battles against top wide receivers.
“It’s one-on-one basically the whole game,” Johnson said. “Cornerback is like, who’s better? And that’s who usually wins the rep. That’s why I love it so much.”
Johnson said he enjoys watching fellow cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Marhson Lattimore play in the NFL. Johnson and Lattimore are the same age, which gives the WSU senior motivation for the future.
“He is on one of my favorite teams (New Orleans), and I watch him a lot because I want to be in his position next year,” Johnson said.
Coach Hill said the in-game contributions are not the only reason why Johnson is valuable to the team.
“He’s been great for our program because he is such a good leader,” Hill said. “He comes out to practice and practices hard every day. That is why the NFL scouts love him.”
Johnson and Weber State fell just short of the FCS championship in 2017. After defeating Southern Utah 30–13 on Dec. 2 in Cedar City, WSU led top-ranked James Madison in the fourth quarter before losing on a last-second field goal. Johnson playing in the Senior Bowl provides a similar opportunity as the FCS Championship.
The Wildcats are hopeful that more players will be invited to the Senior Bowl in coming seasons.
“As we recruit the right way, as we develop talent the right way, we are hoping to have more,” Hill said.
For now, Hill is impressed with the work his cornerback puts in on a daily basis.
“We know he is going to win the majority of his one-on-one battles, and that’s why we love him,” Hill said.
Johnson was not the only Wildcat to make it to the national stage. Tight end Andrew Vollert played in the East-West Shrine Game.