The one-time Alabama running back turned linebacker hasn’t had an ideal progression to his football career, but his life appears to be trending back in the positive direction.
After being arrested in 2008 on felony drug charges, Johns spent 13 months in a Tuscaloosa, Ala., jail.
Since then he has done his best to rehabilitate his image and become a better member of society.
This past summer the 2004 Mr. Football spoke in Jackson to the 12 members that comprised this year’s Clarion Ledger Dandy Dozen squad about his journey since being incarcerated.
And about making the right decisions in life.
Wearing khaki dress pants, a blue and white button-down shirt, a crimson and cream Alabama letterman jacket at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game on Saturday, Johns looked like any other former SEC athlete.
Johns’ day as honorary captain obviously meant something to him.
“I just think it’s an honor to be the captain for the Mississippi squad and me just being vocal and showing the kids what it takes to be a champion and how to be a team,” said Johns following the competition. “If everybody cheers everyone on better things happen when everybody works together.”
Johns was as loud, if not louder, than any Mississippi senior on the sideline.
When Alabama quarterback Jameis Winston found a seam to extend a play with his feet, Johns was leaning onto the playing field, yelling encouragement.
When Brookhaven’s Greg Sims returned a punt 51 yards for the team’s only touchdown, Sims was met immediately on the sideline by Johns.
“This is actually bigger than any college game because it’s your home state, it’s where you grew up at and your family is here,” Johns said. “It’s a state rival, not just a college rival.”
Although Johns was a Mississippian that had played for the Crimson Tide, he said there was no mistaking his allegiance on Saturday.
“I’m an Alabama guy, I love the Crimson Tide and that’s where my heart’s at. I told my parents I was going to play there when I was 4 years old, but I’m from Mississippi,” he said. “That’s where the loyalty is.”
Johns is currently selling cars in Brookhaven and hopes to catch on with a team in “The League” this summer.
“This spring I’ll get my first shot at trying out for the league and I’m excited about that. I have a lot of people rooting for me,” Johns said. “We’re just trying to get into some camp to show what I got. I’ve been working so hard. That’s one thing I never let anybody do was out-work me or want it as bad as I did then.”
Asked about Aberdeen defensive end Channing Ward, and Johns lit up.
“Channing is a guy that has a motor that when he turns it on, can’t be stopped,” Johns said. “I haven’t seen a talent like him in a long time. He’s a great kid and he’ll be great for somebody on the D-1 level.”
South Panola defensive lineman and Ole Miss commitment Issac Gross also stood out to Johns.
“He’s just a motivational and inspirational leader and that’s the kind of leader that goes far. I was telling the guys earlier that to be great leaders you have to be servants and he was serving his team by giving them what they need, talking to them when they needed to be talked to, picking them up when they needed to be picked up and getting down hard on them when they needed that also,” Johns said. “He’s serving his team very well by being a leader for the rest of the players.” (December 15, 2011, Page 7)