Zac Johnson on UM special teams 9.4

Written by David Green.

Zac Johnson is no longer the walk-on who stands around.

After making it onto the University of Michigan football team as a walk-on last year, the 2007 Morenci graduate was red-shirted and forced to watch the UM home games from the sideline last season.

That status ended Saturday when the Wolverines took on the University of Utah.

Johnson, #19, earned a spot on the UM special teams and was on the field frequently for kickoffs and returns and punts and returns—right from the first play of the season.

The thrill of playing before 108,000 fans is a thrill he’ll long remember.

“It was like no other feeling to play in front of that many fans and to be out there on the opening play,” Johnson said. “My adrenaline was crazy.”

He got in a few good blocks during the day and was credited with a solo tackle on a first-quarter kickoff, with his name announced over the public address system.

The day ended up on the bittersweet side: the thrill of playing; the disappointment of a loss.

“I hate losing, and to be that close in the end, you really want to come out on top,” he said. “I feel like we have a lot of work to do, but we have the athletes and the potential to be great if we can bring it all together.”

The Wolverines came from behind to pull within two points before losing to the Utes, 25-23. They’ll regroup for a visit from Miami of Ohio this weekend. The Redhawks lost their opener 34-13 to Vanderbilt.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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