Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Mike Johnson visits for 1st annual Sportsman’s Expo


Former offensive lineman and captain for the Crimson Tide football team, Mike Johnson, recently visited The University of Alabama campus for the first annual Tuscaloosa Sportsman’s Expo at the Bryant Conference Center on July 12. Johnson was the featured guest on Friday for the two-day exhibition that involved more than 50 vendors from across the Southeast.

Now an Atlanta Falcon, Johnson earned consensus first-team All-American honors in 2009 as a starter at left guard. As a member of the last undefeated team for the Tide, Johnson expressed some healthy doubt as to whether the 2013 roster could pull off a perfect season.

“I want to say they’ll go all the way, but I think asking for four out of five [national championships] is a little much,” Johnson said with a laugh. “But they’ve got the leadership, and I know Coach Saban’s got them headed in the right direction.”

Johnson also mentioned the offensive line’s turnover as a potential Achilles’ heel this season, though he was no stranger to reloading during his time at the Capstone.

“I know they’re missing some guys on the offensive line, but we lost three guys, too, when I was a senior in 2009,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, they can do some of the same things we did back then and replace some big names. It’s tough, but it’s been done before, so they can pull it off.”

Entering his fourth season in the NFL, Johnson saw the most playing time last season, serving as a backup guard and an extra body in goal line situations. He even caught a touchdown pass against former teammate Mark Ingram and the New Orleans Saints. His rich professional experience lent Johnson a valuable perspective on the stellar 2012 Tide offensive line.

“It was incredible, especially being a senior back then and watching those guys grow up,” Johnson said. “Chance [Warmack] was my backup when he was a true freshman, and DJ Fluker was there, too. It’s been incredible to watch them age. I got a chance to talk with all of them them at A-Day, and I’m just really proud of them.”

After the Falcons’ first playoff win in the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era last season and nearly reaching the Super Bowl, Johnson is confident the experience and offseason moves will bolster Atlanta’s championship hopes.

“We added some pieces in Osi Umenyiora and Steven Jackson, a couple of pieces that we felt like we needed to have,” he said. “We added some secondary depth in the draft, and it’s just going to be a matter of taking it one game at a time. Just [because] we got close last year doesn’t mean we’re going to get close this year.”

Aside from the high-profile guests, attendees were treated to a variety of outdoor-themed product samples and services, including information on Outdoors Without Limits, an organization aiming “to promote awareness and teamwork between disabled and non-disabled individuals through education and outdoor recreational activities,” according to its website.

“We are a people organization,” said Kirk Thomas, executive director and founder. “We’re hoping to start a chapter here. Our mission, what we try to do, is to change lives.”


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