- It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say of new Southern Miss tight
ends coach Jay Johnson that coaching is in his blood. The Minnesota
native spent a lot of his youth on the sidelines of games his father
been a high school coach as long as I've been alive," Johnson
said. "When I was younger, I went to camp with him and helped
the trainers and managers. Then I went to the games on Friday nights.
I grew up around that atmosphere, being on the sidelines with him."
stuck. Johnson went on the play quarterback at Northern Iowa, where
teams he played for compiled a 31-8 record. After his playing days
were over, he attended graduate school, and for the first time in
his life that sideline experience was absent from his life.
first few months there, I wasn't involved in coaching," Johnson
said. "Then I realized that there was this big void. I had
been so used to being around it. So then I started to get involved
in coaching football again as I was going through graduate school."
eventually led to a career in coaching that has seen Johnson, among
other things, act as offensive coordinator and recruitment coordinator
at Truman State and Augsburg College, and coach quarterbacks and
running backs at the University of Kansas.
No matter where
he has coached, or what position he has been in charge of, Johnson
said that most satisfying aspect of his jobs is working with the
with those kids during those periods of grueling conditioning, or
maybe when you're just sitting around talking about something completely
different than football," Johnson said. "I think it's
that interaction with the young kids, being there for them, helping
them if it's with an academic issue or a personal issue. That's
definitely the most rewarding part."
Now comes the
opportunity to coach the tight end position at Southern Miss, something
Johnson sees as a great opportunity.
to be here," Johnson said. "When you hear of Southern
Miss football, it's a respected program, among coaches throughout
the country at all levels.
a part of that is pretty special, and I'm just thankful I got the
opportunity. People are very proud of this institution, and I think
coached against Southern Miss before coming here, but that doesn't
mean the idea of doing so had never crossed his mind.
saying 'Boy, we wouldn't want to have to play Southern Miss' when
I was at some of these other places," Johnson said. "They
win games and they're not afraid to play anybody."
When he isn't
on the field coaching the Golden Eagle tight ends, Johnson can likely
be found spending time with his wife, Lori, and their 18-month-old
is relatively new in the world, and he's pretty much smiling all
the time," Johnson said. "He's definitely a lot of fun,
and my wife, Laurie, is extremely supportive, and they're always
there for me. I think when you have a good base like that, it can
really carry you a long way."
of Johnson's base is his faith, which he said can be a great comfort
given the challenges of his profession.
it gives you that strength that's so very important to keep going,"
Johnson said. "And sometimes if you have a setback, whatever
that might be, it helps to have that to keep you going."