Year : Junior / Position: RB/OLB
Height: 5–8 / Weight: 135
What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome because you’re smaller?
“At first when I started playing football, they wouldn’t really pick me because they thought I was weak and slow until they gave me a shot and then I showed them.”
Are there any advantages to being smaller?
“I would say my speed. When we have to hit the hole for running back, I guess since I’m shorter and a lot of guys can’t see and get lower, I can get past them.”
Has it been an issue while at Courtland?
“My freshman year I was actually really really small compared to everyone else in tryouts and then I made the team. The first day of practice I tackled one of the biggest guys and at the end of practice [the coaches] were like, ‘Miciah. We’re glad we didn’t cut you,’ because they were going to cut me cause of my height and size.”
Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Raiders)
Hall on Johnson:
“Miciah overcomes the size just because he’s going to come full speed every play. He realizes he’s got to maximize every pound possible, every inch he’s got. He’s going to give you everything he’s got and let the chips fall as they may at the end of the play.”
Year : Senior / Position: C/DT
Height: 6–3 / Weight: 372
Have you always been bigger?
“I was always big. I was always the biggest one from elementary school to high school.”
Has being bigger always helped you?
“In some places. I mean I get to play a higher level of football . . . I get to play with the bigger boys. That’s what I like.”
How does it help you play your positions?
“I’m a big boy. It’s like running into a wall when they try to get through.”
“I want to say Michael Oher because I see a lot of things that happened to him, happened to me. You have to go do some things, but I look up to him a lot.”
Hall on Fields:
“He just ike to get into people and devour them, so to speak. He really likes blocking. Most big guys like defense more than offense, but I think he’s one that likes to block more than play defense and tackle. When he gets into somebody, it’s tough to get away from him and get him off of them. He’s got good feet. He’s got great hands. He’s a heck of an athlete for his size.”
Fifteenth Season (112–54)
“We’re going to run the football first. We’re going to establish a mentality; ‘Block and protect the rock’ is our mantra. So, we’ll continue to do that and sprinkle in some play-action with a lot of misdirection.”
With all three starting RBs back and experience on the line, the Cougars’ ground game should be potent. Jones led the way last season statistically, but any of the three could take over at this deep position.
FB Daniel Curry, up from JV, is also one to watch, as are HB Ethan Rector and Dustin Gough.
Senior Donovan Gill and Junior Shyheem Lewis have battled it out for the starting spot. Gill saw limited action last season, while Lewis is possibly the fastest player on the team.
Garrett Howard is the starter at WR, but Jalen Gill, Tyler Hunt and Addie Burrow are in the mix. Sam Williams is more of a receiving TE, while Josh Wright will be used more as a blcoking TE.
The line is stacked with five seniors, four of whom started last year. Jaekob Vollbrecht moves from center to guard, while Greg Fields will be a load to move at center.
The Cougars’ line is always a rotation, depending on how the opponent lines up. Hall thinks sophomore Adrian Williams is going to be a good one. DE Robert Rangel has also been impressive in the preseason.
OLB DJ Jones and MLB Alex Andros return, with Ethan Rector and Gough fighting for time at the other OLB spot. Zin White and Jaden Woodward will provide depth in this area.
Garrett Howard and Nate Kelly are returning starters, but this is another deep position for the Cougars. Lewis should see time here along with Gill and brother Jalen.
Plenty of skill players to choose from in the return game, while Jones averaged 41-plus per punt. Ks Ryan Lynch and Kam’Ron Taylor are in a two-way race.
THE BOTTOM LINE
After a somewhat down season, the Cougars look deep all over the field and “two times better at this point than we were last year,” according to Hall. They have a lot of speed and good size and should be tough to stop on both sides of the ball.
Eight starters return on offense and six on defense, so experience should not be a concern.