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Johnson eyes SWAC championship

NATCHEZ — Derrian Johnson saw firsthand what it takes to get to the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship.

With a year under his belt, Johnson said he is more motivated than ever to get his Jackson State University Tigers football team back to the title game, but this time with a win.

The former Natchez High School standout signed with Jackson State for the 2013 season, and though he didn’t get to hit the field often, he felt spring practice looking toward the future.

“It was a learning experience, but I enjoyed (my first season),” Johnson said. “(The season) was up and down for me, and I realized it wasn’t my time to play ,though I really wanted to.

“So I worked hard every day and waited until it is my time to play. I sat back and watched the other guys, so I wouldn’t make the same mistakes as they did.”

But everything Johnson learned in the 2013 season has changed as Jackson State fired coach Rick Comegy and hired Harold Jackson in his place.

Jackson had a chance to see what Johnson was made of in spring practice, and Johnson said he and his new coach are on the same page as far as preparing for next season.

“He told me that he liked coaching me and when I come back (in the fall), he wanted to see me bigger, stronger and faster,” Johnson said. “It was highly inspirational to hear that come from my coach, it makes me want to work even harder.”

Natchez High head football coach Lance Reed said he has confidence that Johnson will be just as instrumental to the Tigers as he was to the Bulldogs.

“He was everything to our program, we miss him a lot and he is the best in what he does, so I look forward to him being a big time player at Jackson State,” Reed said.

Johnson plays alongside two other former Natchez High players Joe Perry and Kris Weatherspoon.

“We bond very well,” Johnson said. “We all look out for each other. If anyone needs anything, we’ll try to be there for each other and help each other out.”

Wilkinson County high School’s Devin Fosselman also plays on the team, and Johnson said they all like to reminisce about their high school glory days.

“We talk about our high school days a lot, but we like to look ahead of us,” Johnson said. “We know we have better days ahead. We are working together to win the SWAC championship next year.”

Jackson State opens their season August 30 against Florida A&M University.