The Pittsburgh Steelers second of two fifth round picks in the 2014 NFL Draft has been made and it’s Vanderbilt T Wesley Johnson.
Scouting report via Dave Te’ Thomas.
WESLEY VADNAIS JOHNSON
Vanderbilt University Commodores
Montgomery Bell Academy
When the Commodores failed to establish a passing game, despite featuring the Southeastern Conference’s all-time receiving leader in Jordan Matthews, they 2013 season could have quickly come to an end. They had seen quarterback Jordan Rodgers, kid brother of the Packers’ standout Aaron Rodgers graduate and leave behind two untested quarterbacks to fight for the starting job.
Neither of the youngsters could gain a hold of the starting job. Matthews “mate” at the receiver position, Chris Boyd, had also been dismissed from school prior to the 2013 campaign, further depleting the talent base and weapons for whoever stepped behind center. The solution was simple – revert to the old days, the cloud of dust and bring in the ‘Dores own version of the Washington Redskins “Hogs.” It was time to unleash the team’s offensive linemen on unsuspecting defenders.
The main piece to that equation was hand the ball off to a ball carrier and tell that running back to look for #67 and “everything will be fine.” And that is what the opportunistic Vanderbilt team did, letting their All-Southeastern Conference left tackle pave the way to the end zone. Johnson was a steamroller, leading the charge with key blocks on twenty-two of the team’s 34 scoring runs during his final season.
Vanderbilt would record their second-straight 9-4 season and earn their unprecedented third consecutive bowl appearance. Johnson would walk home with first-team All-South-eastern Conference honors, a boatload of team awards and earn serious consideration for Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award honors.
Talk to any player on the Commodores roster and ask them to describe the term team leader and in a word association game, I am sure they will all say Wesley Johnson, in unison. As soon as Johnson arrived on campus as a freshman, he quickly earned the respect of the downtrodden veterans in the locker room that were tired of the team’s rash of loses.
Johnson would soon help in changing the team’s culture. Even during his playing days at Nashville’s Montgomery Bell Academy, he was regarded as the team’s captain, even before he was officially anointed with the title as a senior. He started in each of his last three seasons on the offensive line, twice earning Division II-AA All-State honors, including unanimous recognition in 2008. He was an All-State Academic team selection and served as vice-president of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization.
Johnson was a finalist for Division II Lineman of the Year as a senior and named to the Nashville Tennessean’s “All-Dream Team” and Division II All-State team by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. He helped the team to get to the state playoffs in 2008 and
Conclude a 13-0 state championship season in 2007. He was a standout discus thrower on the track and field squad, earning two letters in wrestling, in addition to performing as a weightlifter, holding the team’s power clean mark of 335 pounds.
When Johnson arrived at Vanderbilt in 2009, the coaching staff informed him that he would red-shirt. Oh, there were serious thoughts to activating the youngster, especially with his stellar performances at every position on the offensive front wall. Still, the coaches thought it would be best to wait and see what position “shakes out” best to insert their prize recruit.
In 2011, Johnson took over left tackle duties, as he was one of just two blockers to start every game for Vanderbilt that season. It was easy to see he was their best blocker and the league’s coaches also noticed, according him Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team honors. The 280-pounder might have been outweighed by most defensive ends that challenged him that season, but he graded a team-high 87% and posted 58 knockdowns as the team went 2-10 and ranked 110th among 120 major colleges with an average of 298.25 yards per game in total offense.
The next season, it appeared that Vanderbilt was about to “see the light at the end of the tunnel,” as they improved their record to 6-7 and earned just their fifth invite to play in a bowl game since the school began playing organized football. Led by Johnson’s ability to fill in at a variety of position – starting seven games at center, two at left guard and four more at left tackle while almost alternating at each position with the first unit weekly – the team doubled its scoring output from their running backs thirteen touchdowns in 2010; 26 in 2011).
Johnson continued his team-first work ethic as a junior. The All-SEC honorable mention began the 2012 campaign at left tackle, moving to the right side for the final three games. He delivered 79 knockdowns with thirteen touchdown-resulting blocks and Vanderbilt joined the league’s elite with a 9-4 campaign.
Johnson would finish his four seasons at Vanderbilt in 2013, but left with a remarkable statistic for an offensive lineman – well, actually it was a non-statistic. Through 3,378 plays on the football field, the team captain had never been flagged for holding while playing for Vanderbilt.
Johnson started all fifty-one games he played in at Vanderbilt, including a total of 39 at left tackle, three at right tackle, two at left guard and seven at center…His fifty-one starting assignments established a school career-record…Registered 252 key blocks/knockdowns and was credited with fifty touchdown-resulting blocks…Also produced 172 blocks that led directly to Commodore first downs.
Johnson received All-Southeastern Conference first-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and the league’s coaches, adding second-team accolades from the Associated Press…Named to the watch lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy…
Started all thirteen games at left offensive tackle, delivering a team-high 88 key blocks/ knockdowns (61), as he produced a school record twenty-two touchdown-resulting blocks for a team that found the end zone thirty-four times on the ground…Helped the offense generate 4,765 yards and score 391 points…Garnered SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy consideration…Played nearly every Vanderbilt offensive snap (880) as a senior…Named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for a team-record fourth occasion after effort in victory over nationally ranked Georgia that included four blocks that led directly to Vanderbilt touchdowns…Charged with just one of the 33 sacks given up by the front wall.
Johnson received All-SEC honorable mention from the Associated Press and was on the Outland Trophy Watch List…Opened the season starting at left tackle, but closed out his junior campaign with three starting assignment on the right side…Was the team’s top lineman with 79 key blocks/knockdowns and thirteen touchdown-resulting blocks, as he guided a young offense amassed 4,936 yards (379.69 ypg)…Helped pave the way for a rushing attack that averaged 166 yards per game and a passing attack that averaged 214 yards per game…Recognized as the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance in shutout win at Kentucky, in which Johnson and the offensive line paved the way for 227 yards on the ground and 220 yards through the air. His SEC honor was his third weekly award from the league, the most ever by a Vanderbilt offensive lineman…The Commodores produced a season-best 29 first downs and converted 11-of-17 third down conversions in the win vs. the Wildcats.
Johnson earned the Anchor Award as the team’s Offensive Lineman of the Year…Started all thirteen games, but rarely settled in at one position, as the chronicle of those moves saw the junior start at center for the first four games (vs. Elon, Connecticut, Ole Miss, South Carolina) before moving to left tackle vs. Alabama and Georgia. That would follow a move back to center vs. Army before shifting back to left tackle vs. Arkansas and Florida. Johnson slid over to left guard for the Kentucky and Tennessee clashes before settling back at center vs. Wake Forest and Cincinnati (Liberty Bowl)…His ability to play every position was crucial to team’s success culminating in the Liberty Bowl appearance, only the fifth time in the school’s history that they appeared in a postseason contest…Played virtually every offensive snap for the Commodores for a second consecutive season…A key member of the offensive turnaround that had the Commodores scoring 10 points more points per game than previous year…Captured SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors for the second time in his Commodore career for his performance in a victory over Ole Miss when the Commodores rushed for 281 yards…Helped pave the way for junior running back Zac Stacy to set single season school records with 1,193 rushing yards and fourteen rushing touchdowns.
Johnson put together a solid first college season at left tackle, earning All-SEC Freshman Team and Freshman All-American second-team honors (Phil Steele)…Named the league’s top offensive line freshman by the SEC coaches…Consistently graded among the top performers on the Commodore line, despite being outweighed by virtually every opposing defensive lineman he faced…Named the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Week and earned his team’s similar recognition after an excellent blocking performance in Vanderbilt’s win at Ole Miss.
Despite redshirting during his first year of campus, Johnson impressed the coaches and teammates with this athleticism as an offensive line prospect…Showed the staff the ability to play all three positions on the offensive line…Named the team’s postseason Offensive Scout of the Year award, and also was singled out for his practice contributions after the Louisiana State game…Dedicated in the weight room, Johnson added fifteen pounds of bulk during his first year on campus.
No injuries reported.
5.11 in the 40-yard dash…1.73 10-yard dash…2.96 20-yard dash…4.64 20-yard shuttle…
7.40 three-cone drill…29-inch vertical jump…9’-3” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times…33 1/8-inch arm length…10 ¼-inch hands…79 ¾-inch wingspan.
Johnson attended Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, where the team’s captain started in each of his last three seasons on the offensive line, twice earning Division II-AA All-State honors, including unanimous recognition in 2008…Was an All-State Academic team selection and served as vice-president of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization…Finalist for Division II Lineman of the Year as a senior and named to the Nashville Tennessean’s “All-Dream Team” and Division II All-State team by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association…Helped the team to get to the state playoffs in 2008 and conclude a 13-0 state championship season in 2007…Standout discus thrower on the track and field squad, earning two letters in wrestling, in addition to performing as a weightlifter, holding the team’s power clean mark of 335 pounds.
Johnson is a two-time Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll recipient…Son of Arlene and David Johnson…Father played baseball at Louisiana Tech…Grandfather played football at Hofstra and briefly with the Baltimore Colts…Worked “Backfield in Motion” camps for local youth…Born Wesley Vadnais Johnson on 1/09/91…Resides in Nashville, Tennessee.