Following a standout high school career at Wichita’s Bishop Carroll High School, Johnson moved on to Butler Community College, where again he worked briefly at center before settling in as an all-Jayhawk Conference guard. It was not until he walked on at K-State last fall, after a year away from football, that he finally found his spot.

Even at a new position, Johnson became the backup to three-year starter Adam Holtorf at center, appearing in three games. He also quickly established himself as a leader among the offensive linemen, despite his lack of experience.

Johnson, who at 6-foot-1, 287 pounds is on the small side for a major college offensive lineman, has relied on his wits — he was a first-team academic all-Big 12 selection last year — but also on his tenacity to get where he is today.

“When we fall a little flat, when that confidence is being dented, he’s the guy who is rallying that group,” Offensive Line Coach Conor Riley said. “With our offense, our communication really begins and kind of ends with that center, so his ability to communicate (and) get guys going in the right direction has been phenomenal.”

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