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November 25, 2009

Season recap: Jeremiah Johnson

Last winter, Suitland coach Nick Lynch was killed in a car accident, leaving the Rams searching for leadership as they dealt with tragedy.

Jeremiah Johnson, a Maryland cornerback commitment, was up to the challenge.

“We lost our head coach last year,” said Ed Shields, who was elevated from defensive backs coach to head coach after Lynch’s passing, “and Jeremiah really took over team leadership. We didn’t go as far as we would have liked to go during the season, but to come back from that type of stuff [was impressive]. ... It was a time where you needed people to stand up and he was one of the people who stood up. Every time you go out on the field, at least in the beginning, you started to think about our coach. He was a big presence and he had a big affect on their lives. So anybody that helps you get through that transition period ... is a big deal. He really helped pull everyone together and helped keep the kids focused.”

Johnson was elected team captain and helped Suitland to a 9-2 season. The Rams fell in the Class 4A South semifinals to C.H. Flowers. Johnson caught 11 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns, and recorded 99 tackles and four interceptions at the free safety spot. Shields said Johnson’s move from cornerback to safety ensured that he would be more involved in the team’s defense. The opposition could avoid Johnson at corner, but not at safety.

“In the second half of our first Flowers game, he was playing pretty possessed,” Shields said. “He plays like that anyway, but Flowers is a good team and he was playing sideline to sideline, putting hits on people that with his frame you don’t necessarily expect. We were down 14 points and we ended up coming back, and a lot of it had to do with him just playing possessed.”

Maryland was the first school to offer Johnson over the summer, and it took the 5-foot-11, 160-pounder just five minutes to think it over and commit. Despite coming into the season with his future all planned out, Johnson never took anything for granted.

“Some kids, when they get offered by Maryland earlier in the summer, they might think, ‘I don’t have to work as hard,’” Shields said. “But it didn’t change his work ethic. Matter of fact, it just made him work harder. So it never changed him or phased him one bit. He just kept working. He’s a great cover guy who we used at safety because he also runs the field and is a tackler. He is a little small in size for a place like Maryland, but it doesn’t stop him from being physical. He will come at you with everything he’s got. He’s a cover corner who can hit. Anytime someone breaks loose, we never had to worry because he’s going to run them down and bring them down.”

A Maryland assistant once commented to Shields that Johnson is “always in the film” -- either glued to his man or coming in to make a play. In a playoff game during Johnson’s sophomore year, Shields recalls the young cornerback’s instincts on display. The opposing quarterback pumped-faked, but Johnson didn’t bite. He stayed with his man step-for-step and broke up the pass.

“You saw it back then and thought, ‘Wow, this is a 10th grader,’” Shields said. “You just don’t always expect that from a 10th-grader in a big playoff game. So that kind of gave us a hint that we were going to see good things in the future from him.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:06 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Season recaps
        

Comments

Is it just me, or can anyone else NOT WAIT until Greives is gone?
He just might be the worst shooter in MD history. Like the Miami game last year when he had 6 3 point attempts to win it and couldn't hit 1.
Notice the first 4 games, when he only took 5 or 6 shots, we were 4-0. Then yesterday, ESPN 2, and he reverts back to 5-18 and 0-5 from 3.
This was such an embarassing loss. Maryland complains when they are not in the top 25, then, as soon as they get there they lose their 1st real game.
Cincy. A backwards program. It really makes MD look good when Lance, who no one wanted, goes to Cincy, and they start off 6-0 and beat us.
Way to go terps.
I keep hearing that Ross is thinking about pulling his verbal, and that would be devastating, simply because I hear he is actually a legit shooter.
How does Milbourne and Mosley only combine to take 14 shots?
How is that possible?
Once Wisconsin beats them today, their true colors of why they WERE NOT inthe top 25 will come out.

Ryan, I have to agree with you. I thought that Adrian Bowie was going to elevate his game and develop a shot, definitely he has not. At least Greivis shots the ball though where most of the other players look scared. We had many open looks in which our players just threw the ball away (See Tucker's and JSC lowlight reel). We don't have a true go to player on this team that can bail us out. When we are in a tight games we are at our worse. If T. Ross does not come we are in trouble and you are on the money Ryan. I'm sure the "Gary Apologist" will make their comments but it is the truth. We had a chance once again to make a statement and we came out flat. It has been the M.O. of this team for the last 4 years. I know, what about the Carolina and Wake Forest game. Who cares, if we have to rest on those lone games we are a pretender rather then a contender. Not to mention the long scoring droughts that we repeatly go through especially in major games or Lord forbid we get an early lead. That has to fall on the coach. Even weaker teams that we have faced find a player that can score when they need a bucket. We on the other hand fall apart.

Matt, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your readers, including Ryan and Rob. Thanks for your informative blog, which is where I go to find the latest in recruiting news.

Ryan and Rob, I'm reading your comments and can only roll my eyes and say, five games into the season and they're starting already?

Can't wait till Greives is gone? That's a joke, I hope. Come March, when the team is going back to the NCAA Tournament thanks in large part to his play, let's hear your tune then.

Sure, he's gotten off to a rough start shooting (though not against Cincinnati or Wisconsin, where he obviously had found his touch. Look, nearly the whole team shot poorly in the last two games and Gary will need them to get that part of their game together (the defense, as expected, has been improved over last year).

Two losses to good teams early in the season doesn't make the Terps pretenders. It's way too early to know what kind of team they're going to be. They have two freshmen getting significant playing time--one of them starting--so it's going to take a little time for the team to mesh.

Just don't dump on them now, guys, it's not fair and it doesn't make any sense. Twenty games into the season is when we'll know how good this team is, not after five; after all, North Carolina already lost a game and I don't hear anyone saying they can't play.

I believe the team will come out strong against Illinois and if so, that would be big confidence booster. Let's just not rush to conclusions, when there's so much of the season left to play.

Ken -- Thanks for the kind words. Your contributions to the blog are always appreciated.

Ken,

Happy Thanksgiving as well. Carolina is coming off a National Championship and a Final Four. I would not complain either about a loss to a great Syracuse team. We on e the other hand have seen this song and dance before with this team. Long scoring droughts, missed foul shots, poor perimeter D with wide open 3 point shots, and overall bad decision making. At what point do you get tired of it? If you can't beat the younger teams like Cincy and Wisconsin, you are a pretender. MD will be a bubble team again at the end of the year. Should'nt we expect more? Ken, do you think JSC should even be on the floor? Tucker and Bowie still struggle on defense and being offensive threats. Now having said that I do like what I am seeing out of Mosely and Padge. Man, I hope you are right and things will improve. But a seasoned well coached team usually wins these games, especially early in the season. I still see us being a up and down team. Capable of beating a Carolina and losing to a Morgan in the same week. We are that way becasue of G.V. He is still as unpredictable as he ever was. I was hoping his arrogance would diminish as he matured. He hit one 3 out of 6 attempts against Wisconsin, and we are down by 8 mind you, and he acts like he hit the game winner. He also watches his shot way to often and does not follow-up it up for the rebound. Usually these turn into fast breaks and easy score for the other team. I don't think this team has ever really fits together entirely well.

To Rob and Ryan:
Did u actually watch either of the games? Maryland stunk at the free throw line and blew I don't know how many layups off steals. Say what u will about GV, but I didn't see anyone on MD shoot well. They would have actually had a chance against Cincy if they had just made some free throws to set their press. I watched pretty much the entire team throw up brick after brick from the line. Was that GV's fault or Gary's for that matter? Come on you jokers? Who is the only ACC team not to endure a losing season in the last twenty plus years??? Maryland!!!!

Jay,

I watched all the games and we are in agreement, everyone looked bad. That's why if falls on the coaching. G.W. did not have his team ready to play while the teams that we faced did. Were we not picked to win this tourney?

Jay what was our record in the ACC the last couple of years? Not too impressive. Should that not be the true barometer? We get 20 wins because our schedule is padded. We have been a bubble team or NIT for at least the last 5 years except when we won the ACC Touney. I hope you're not in sales, if you came in and always talked about what you did in the past you would be fired. This team has never worked well for any period of time because we lack consistant scorers. I don't see that changing with our current personel. Dino is no scoring threat so he is not going to add any significant value. JSC needs to transfer, but G.W. will continue to play him because he likes projects. I think Bowie game has regressed because he is thinking about his shot too much. Tucker's D is a joke and he is a liability like Jones was. Milbourne gets throttled playing bigger men. Hayes throws the ball away if there is any true pressure. We are slow to recover when we trap and it leads to wide open 3's for the other teams we play.

Jay, were do you think this team will end up? The bright spot is that the ACC is down this year. I'm a huge UMD fan but I do believe the flex is getting old or we have had the wrong players running it for a while. I think it is only truly effective if you have a great PG. We have not had that since Gilchrist and Blake.

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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