Sunday was the one-year anniversary of Georgia Tech quarterback Lucas Johnson’s season-ending foot injury. A lot has happened since then for him.
At the time, Johnson was competing with Tobias Oliver to be the backup to TaQuon Marshall, but the Lisfranc injury cut short his season. Then he watched Oliver play impressively as a backup and position himself as the likely successor to Marshall. And then, with the coaching transition from Paul Johnson to Geoff Collins, he has appeared to have gained the inside track to be the starter for the Yellow Jackets and become a recognized team leader.
“It’s crazy because, honestly, I forgot about (the anniversary) until my mom sent me a text and it was like, you know what (Sunday) is?” Johnson said. “And I was like, oh, yeah, it is. It’s just crazy to see how far I’ve come. Last year around this time, I was really down. But I’ve just put in a lot of hard work with the training staff and all the coaches and it feels good to be out there again.”
In the team’s scrimmage Saturday, Johnson led the offense on two touchdown drives, finishing them with scoring runs of one and seven yards. Johnson said that his comfort level has increased since the start of the preseason, a total of 11 practices through Monday, as he has accumulated repetitions, studied practice video and met with offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude.
“Everything’s just starting to slow down, so I feel like my confidence level is really going up,” he said.
Still, Johnson said he’s continuing to learn to recognize defenses and put the offensive line in the right protection.
“Coach (Patenaude) is really doing a lot of stuff different, which is cool, but just listening to coach, whatever he tells us to do, we’re just going to do it,” Johnson said.
Tech’s first game is 16 days from Tuesday, at defending national champion Clemson. Johnson likely will take the first snap. It’s a long way from season-ending surgery and an uncertain career path.
“I feel like coach P’s going to put us in the best position to win a game,” Johnson said. “If it’s running the ball, that’s fine. He’s been doing this for a long time, and he’s had a lot of success doing it. So I’m just really trusting the process and whatever he wants, that’s what we’re going to do.”