Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Will Johnson had a good rookie season in 2012 and Thursday at the NFL combine general manager Kevin Colbert showered West Virginia product with praise.
“Will Johnson did a great job for us, Colbert said during his media session. “We signed Will out of the West Virginia pro day last year as a free agent, a fullback candidate, and quite honestly, he exceeded our expectations. We didn\’t know what he was going to be able to do because he really didn\’t do much of what we asked him to do at West Virginia. He was more of backside-move, kind of tight end. In our situation, he became a traditional fullback and did a great job, so we\’re hoping he can continue it.
“Teams were not really looking at Johnson and then he got noticed at the West Virginia pro day. Can his story serve as a message to other players that they don\’t have to be big-name players, but just show their skills when the time is right? Yeah, I think it was good fortune for both Will and us.”
Will waged a strong training camp battle with David Johnson, who wound up tearing his ACL in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. From that point forward Will was the starter and improved as the season went on.
Will started his college career as a wide receiver and showed his pass catching ability during his rookie season as he caught 15 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. He had his most success while running the wheel route out of the backfield and was used sparingly in the passing game to keep defenses honest.
In total Will played just over 360 snaps on offense and also contributed on special teams.
David is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but could eventually be re-signed for the minimum late in the offseason should he not get attention from another team, assuming of course that he is fully recovered from his knee injury. Should that wind up happening he will have a tough time beating out Will for a roster spot as Colbert is clearly impressed so far with his pro day find.