As millions across the country tune in to watch the College Football Playoff championship on Monday night, one Mississippi player will be front and center stage.
Dillon Johnson, a Greenville native who began his career at Mississippi State before transferring to Washington for his junior season, leads the Huskies in rushing with nearly 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns and hopes to win a national title against the Michigan Wolverines.
Though Johnson went down in the final minute of the Sugar Bowl against Texas and had to be carted off the field, the St. Joseph alum confirmed to reporters on Sunday that he will, in fact, be suiting up for the most important game of the season.
“They’re going to have to carry me off on a stretcher, and I don’t even think that’s going to be able to hold me back,” Johnson said. “I definitely will be out there playing on Monday. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I have no choice.”
Even with a fractured bone in his right foot that he suffered on Nov. 18 against Oregon State, Johnson has played through and played well – to say the least. Against the Longhorns, he had 152 yards and two touchdowns. In his only season in the Pac-12, Johnson has scored more times and nearly surpassed his rushing total that he had in three years as part of Mike Leach’s Air Raid system.
No stranger to big games, Johnson played in and won three state championships during his time at Greenville St. Joseph. The one-time quarterback is prepared to get a fourth championship, this time on the college level, and will do whatever it takes to help the Huskies take down the Wolverines.
“I’m solid. I’m just putting it in God’s hands. I’m going to be out there ready to play Monday,” Johnson told the Pac-12 Network. “We’re coming out here to win the game, and I’m just trying to help my team as much as possible.”
Johnson’s work will be cut out for him, though, as Michigan’s front six is hard-nosed and has proved dominant in the trenches. The Wolverines lead the nation in total defense, allowing just 243 total yards per game.
No. 1 Michigan (14-0, 9-0 Big 10) and No. 2 Washington (14-0, 9-0 Pac-12) will kick off from NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas at 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
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