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.