Hall of Famer
LATROBE – You’ll See.
No need to correct that. It’s a proper name.
Well, actually it’s a nickname, as in the new starting fullback for the Pittsburgh Steelers is Will “You’ll See” Johnson.
Running backs coach Kirby Wilson explains it this way:
“Coach Tomlin had told me about him a while back and I didn’t know anything about him,” said Wilson. “We introduced ourselves to each other when I came back and the first thing you notice is the guy really was well put together and he had a nice frame and you were like, ‘OK, this is going to be interesting to see.’ And then you saw him running around in OTAs and the movement was really good at the minicamps and it was very intriguing. So I asked him one day, ‘Are you going to hit anybody when we get into pads?’ And he goes ‘You’ll see.’ So that’s kind of been his nickname throughout training camp, ‘You’ll see.’”
Has he hit anybody?
Have Wilson, Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers seen?
“Yes, and he’s doing a very good job,” Wilson said. “I’m very pleased.”
Johnson of course became the fullback through attrition when the only other fullback in camp, David Johnson, went down Thursday night with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the season.
Will Johnson, the 6-2, 238-pound rookie, stepped in and played well. Over the next few weeks Wilson plans to look at tight ends Jamie McCoy, Weslye Saunders and Heath Miller at fullback, but it’s Johnson’s job to lose.
“We’ll mix and match and put some pieces together and see what happens,” Wilson said. “Will actually played really well and did a real nice job for us, particularly for the first time ever playing in a National Football League game.”
Johnson played wide receiver, tight end and H-back at WVU, where he caught 25 passes for 249 yards and 4 touchdowns.
He wasn’t drafted in, or signed after, the 2011 draft, so he worked three jobs and began a serious training regimen in order to try again this year. He added 10 pounds and was timed at a reported 4.49 at WVU’s 2012 pro day, and the Steelers signed him two days later.
Tomlin, who was at the pro day, said he had no previous knowledge of Johnson, just that “it was that impressive of a workout.”
“He’s got some real good athleticism, good change of direction,” said Wilson. “He’s athletic, which is different. Most people at that position are not as athletic so that gives him an advantage and he’s able to adjust on the move and hit and strike linebackers as they move and adjust to the run scheme. We’re excited to see how he progresses here in the next two to three weeks.”
Wilson was asked if lead blocking is the most important aspect of Johnson’s job right now.
“It’s understanding and reading the defensive fronts, how to insert to your assignment,” Wilson said. “The key thing for a fullback is know what to do, know how to do it, and then do it very, very violently. He’s got that capability.”
Wilson said McCoy is “decent” and “adequate” at fullback, and that Saunders “did some in the game Thursday,” and that “Heath does it and has been doing it for the last five years.” However, Wilson agrees that tight ends have a difficult time making the transition to fullback.
“Most fullbacks are converted tailbacks so they know how to read a front, they know a best entry to get their assignment done, they know how to adjust on the run, and tight ends who are trying to adjust three or four plays a game at that position struggle with it,” Wilson said. “Heath is an exception because he’s done it so long now, but you don’t want to use one of the best tight ends in the NFL as your fullback lead-blocking on these big linebackers, so yeah they’re hard to find. Good ones are extremely hard to find. They’re very rare. We thought we had a couple that were good and now we’re down to one, unfortunately, and we’ll see what happens.”
Johnson played linebacker and tailback at Centerville High School in Dayton, Ohio, and even though he never gained 1,000 yards in a season was an honorable mention all-state player who led his team to the conference championship as a senior. He also played some tailback for WVU during the spring of his sophomore season, but got hurt and didn’t play the position again – until a few days ago at practice with the Steelers.
“He’s the only guy I have who is interchangeable that way,” Wilson said. “He plays fullback full-time, and part-time halfback if we get into a pinch, so we’ll continue to try to train him that way and see what happens.”
And as Johnson would say: You’ll see.
Where there's a Will: Steelers FB took a detour to NFL
Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
By Mike Bires [EMAIL="firstname.lastname@example.org"]email@example.com[/EMAIL]
Steelers fullback Will Johnson
LATROBE -- Last summer, Will Johnson was a football nobody.
Thirty-two NFL teams were working hard at training camp, but not one of them wanted the former West Virginia University tight end. No one thought enough of Johnson to even sign him as an undrafted free agent practice player.
While there were more than 2,500 players on camp rosters league wide, Johnson was out of football. He paid bills by working as a landscaper in Charlotte, N.C. But during that time, he refused to throw away his dream of playing in the NFL.
Now, Johnson’s dream is very much alive. Today, he’s the Steelers’ first-team fullback.
“My mindset was that I’m going to make this work out,” Johnson said. “I was going to do everything I could to make this happen.”
Johnson’s current position on the Steelers’ depth chart is a combination of perseverance and fate.
During that year or so he spent in Charlotte, he worked out like never before. He joined a CrossFit gym, which uses a grueling strength and conditioning program that's followed by not only elite athletes but also police academies and special military units.
Then on Thursday night, Johnson’s chances of sticking with the Steelers increased significantly when David Johnson suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Will Johnson said. “I’m happy for the opportunity but not necessarily with how I got it. I hate to see D.J. go down this way. But I am looking forward to my opportunity.”
During his West Virginia career, Johnson was a seldom-used wide receiver and tight end. As a senior in 2010, he started the season as a backup tight end but also played at times at fullback. In his last season with the Mountaineers, he caught just nine passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
“I probably got lost in the film. I probably didn’t have enough on tape for (NFL) coaches to want to sign me and bring me in to camp," he said.
But after that year in Charlotte, he got permission from the West Virginia athletic department to return to Morgantown for this year’s Pro Day for Mountaineers hoping to get drafted. He didn’t disappoint. He timed well in the 40-yard dash. He looked explosive in drills. He even benched pressed 225 pounds 30 times.
To put that in perspective, the Steelers’ top two draft picks this year -- guard David DeCastro and tackle Mike Adams -- put up 34 and 19 reps, respectively on the bench press portion of this year’s NFL Combine.
Among those watching WVU's Pro Day in March were Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert. Afterwards, they pulled him aside and told him they would sign him. Two days later, Johnson was in the fold.
“I think Will can do a great job. He’ll be a great fullback for this offense,” David Johnson said. “He’s been pushing me all camp, making me better and helping me step up my game.
“It seems like he’s been playing fullback for years. He’s big and strong. He blocks well. And he has good hands.”
The Steelers aren’t saying if they’ll bring in another fullback to compete with Will Johnson. At this stage of camp, it’s hard to imagine that there’s a quality fullback in the pool of unsigned free agents.
Johnson, who’ll start Sunday when the Steelers host Indianapolis, says he’ll continue to and try to prove he’s the right man for the job.
“During that time I was out of football, I got so much motivation from my agent, my fiancée and the rest of my family,” he said. “It’s always good to hear that you have what it takes to play at this level.
“Now that I have this opportunity, I just have to keep working hard and make the most of it. My goal right now is to go out there every day and play as hard and well as I can.”
I thought that he was already the #1 FB prior to the game Thursday. I was kind of surprised at how the Steelers opened the game against the Eagles. Actually, even though they did move the ball well early, that was the only part of the game I didn't like the formations or style too much. It did get better as the game went along however. Nonetheless, the Steelers better find a way to run the ball [more/effectivley/or more effectively] from the other formations as well.
Heath Miller at FB???!!!
You can stop that right now.
It's been happening since 2007...
Originally Posted by 8467thekraken