Steelers FB Will Johnson Impressed GM Kevin Colbert In His Rookie Season

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.

  • Cody Younkin

    Why would we even consider keeping david Johnson? Will is a better blocker, pass catcher, hes young, and cost less!! Thats like trading in your 88 Honda for a beautiful new Audi and getting paid for it. This is the definition of a great UDFA find.

  • mokhkw

    W.Johnson is the best FB we’ve had since Kreider & I can’t think of any reason to bring back D.Johnston. No other team will sign D.Johnston & the Steelers would be better off getting another UDFA after April to keep on the PS, something that I don’t think David would be eligible for. Keep him on speed-dial in case Will & the UDFA both get hurt.

    I also hope they find more ways to get Will involved in the Offense. I think he’s a better H-Back or 2nd TE option than Paulson or Pope & he’s versatile enough to be a pass-catching threat at either spot or FB.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Glad his play didn’t go unnoticed. Can’t see him not just improving from here…. It was his FIRST year at the position. Also athletic enough to be fine for whatever blocking scheme we throw at him.

  • grw1960

    I totally agree, Will also has better speed than most TEs.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    We can still use David Johnson as a TE as well. Although he will not be a stud he played there for 2 years for us.

  • steeltown

    I said it before and I’ll say it again, the Will Johnson signing was the best, yet most underrated and least talked about signing by the Steelers in 2012.

    This guy just seems like a Steeler.

    He worked his tail off to get where he is, he’s played Offense, Defense, and Special Teams – Running Back to Linebacker to Wide Receiver to Tight End to Fullback dating back to highschool and college… he’ll do whatever is asked of him.. and what a bargain!

  • steeltown

    Totally agree, he played WR at one point and runs around a 4.50, but dude is strong!

  • Imho of course, i think will johnson could be the next bettis for us. We dont need todraft a RB if we make him so. He has good hands, nimble feet, and very agile. He has the build of bettis, nothing would make me more happier if they at least give him the opprotunity to at least try as the feature back that we need. Any thoughts?