AUBURN, Ala. — Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium started much like Kerryon Johnson had expected.
“If I remember correctly it was a broken play, really,” Johnson said. “I think a D-lineman slipped through or somebody and I just had to improvise. Luckily I got my legs out of the leg tackle, I think it was Nick Ruffin or something like that. And just got into the end zone.”
On just his second rush attempt of Auburn’s spring game, Johnson dove into the end zone. He totaled 47 yards on 7 attempts, adding a 17-yard reception from quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
The day took a turn when Johnson suffered a high right ankle sprain at the end of the first quarter. He was sidelined for the rest of the day.
After the first-team’s victory, coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t overly concerned about Johnson — even after Johnson dealt with nagging injuries last season.
“He’s been healthy all spring,” Malzahn said. “We just think it’s one of those things. It doesn’t alarm me or anything like that, but he’s had an excellent spring.”
While the injury definitely annoyed Johnson, it didn’t worry him much, either. He’s confident in navigating the rehab process in the short and long term.
“You’ve just got to keep pushing and hope one day it works out,” Johnson said. “You’ve just got to get in the weight room and push as hard as you can. If that’s not enough you just do it all over again. Some people never suffer injuries their whole football career. Some suffer a lot. Some here and there. When you do get injured you go back and rehab as hard as you can and go back out there and play. That’s just a risk you take every time.”
In the midst of questions about his ankle after the game, Johnson was asked about how players, and Jarrett Sitdham in particular, were able to handle pressure. Though Johnson wasn’t the topic of the question, he couldn’t help but laugh at how his answer applied to his own situation.
Whether it’s dealing with the spotlight and expectations or an ankle sprain, Johnson tries to stay level-headed.
“We all know anything can change at any given moment,” Johnson said. “If you let all that get to you and now you go downhill, now you’re in a state where you’re mind’s not right. We go out and focus on our job everyday and focus on getting ourselves better and let the rest take care of itself.”
Heading into the offseason healthy is a main focus for Johnson. While he’s seen Chip Lindsey develop Auburn’s passing game more this spring, Johnson knows what’s coming when SEC play kicks off later this year. He’ll be ready when his name is called.
“Obviously, we’re going to be able to run the ball,” Johnson said. “That’s what we do, that’s what we pride ourselves on.”