Zac Johnson back on UM special teams 09.10.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Goal one: Play football for the University of Michigan. Check.

Goal two: Obtain a scholarship. Check.

Goal three: Start as a safety. Still in progress.

Morenci 2007 graduate Zac Johnson is advancing in his plans for a football career at Michigan. He joined the squad as a walk-on in his freshman year and was soon red-shirted. That was an exciting season, just to be part of the team, but a frustrating one when he was never able to walk onto the field.

That changed last season when he was a member of the special teams in all 12 Wolverine games. He tallied eight tackles, including a pair at Ohio State.johnson_zach_msu2008_3_wp.jpg

This year he’s back with the special teams. Look for Number 19 on kickoffs (third player from the right) and on punt block teams (on the right end). He’s also a tackle on the punt team, but he’s hoping not to get called into that role as often as last season. This year Michigan intends to see the number in the wins column grow.

“My goal was to play for Michigan and another goal was to get a scholarship,” Johnson said.

The 4.0-GPA Morenci graduate already had an academic scholarship, but the athletic award will cover his other costs. He figures about half of the players on the team have athletic scholarships, and joining that group makes him feel as though he’s really arrived.

“I always felt part of the team,” he said, “but this makes it a little easier to go in there every day.”

“In there” is to face the challenge of conditioning coach Mike Barwis.

Speed, power, agility.

“He’s a high-energy guy,” Johnson said. “He’s going to challenge you every day to push it a little further. It’s pretty intense, but I’m doing pretty well.”

That third goal—a starting role as a safety—is something he’s still working on. That effort was derailed by a neck injury during training camp. Johnson broke the hyoid bone in two places. He was in the hospital for two days and out of action for a week.

He can see some humor in the incident now, but it was painful at the time and frustrating to be unable to speak. There wasn’t much understandable coming out of his mouth in the hospital.

But what really hurt was his loss of practice time.

“I lost a week at camp and it’s tough to come back after that,” he said. “At the time I was battling for a second string spot.”

That would have led to time on the field beyond special teams. The season is young, however, and there’s still a possibility of moving upward.

Johnson is now majoring in sociology after changing from his original engineering major. The time demands from football made engineering studies a challenge, but he expects to attend graduate school when his football eligibility runs out and he might return to engineering.

For now, football is on his mind and he’ll be on the field Saturday in Ann Arbor when Notre Dame visits—the only Lenawee County player on the UM team. He picked up a pair of tackles last week against Western Michigan, so he’s already ahead of where he was a year ago at this time.

“I had a pretty solid game,” he said, and he intends to keep it that way on his climb upward.

  • Homecoming Court
    HOMECOMING—One senior candidate will be chosen Morenci’s fall homecoming queen during half-time ceremonies Friday at the football field. In the back row are seniors Mikayla Price, who will be escorted by Mason Vaughn; Madison Bachman, escorted by Kiegan Merillat, and Mikayla Reinke, escorted by Griffin Grieder. Senior Ariana Roseman is absent from the photo. Her escort is Garrett Smith. In the front is sophomore Abbie White, who will be escorted by Ryder Price; junior Madysen Schmitz, escorted by Harley McCaskey and freshman Madison Keller, escorted by Jarett Cook.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016