TROY – John Johnson, a standout football student-athlete at Troy from 2014-17, died Thursday night in Jacksonville, Fla., from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
Known for an infectious smile and a giving heart, Johnson, 24, was a member of Hall of Fame head coach Larry Blakeney’s final signing class prior to the 2014 season out of Charles Henderson High School in Troy. He played in all 12 games his true freshman season and again as a sophomore in Neal Brown’s first season as head coach.
Johnson’s leadership in his final two seasons was critical as Troy posted the nation’s best turnaround with a 10-win season and AP Top 25 ranking in 2016 and followed with 11 wins in 2017. In his final game wearing a Troy uniform, Johnson caught one of his four career touchdown passes and was on the throwing end of a two-point conversion in Troy’s record-setting victory in the 2017 New Orleans Bowl.
According to an article on firstcoastnews.com, out of Jacksonville, Florida Highway State Troopers say Johnson was headed southbound on a Suzuki motorcycle on State Road 13 when a Ford F-150 in front of him slowed down to make a left turn onto Braaschville Road.
According to the crash report, Johnson attempted to pass the truck by veering into the northbound lane but collided with the vehicle's left rear side.
Johnson was thrown from his motorcycle and struck to the ground, the report states. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Troopers say Johnson was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
“It tears you up to hear this kind of news,” Blakeney said is a Troy release Friday morning. “John was a great kid, very giving of his time and just a bona fide young man. We had the pleasure of recruiting him out of Charles Henderson High School, and he was by far the best player we had the chance to sign from across the street.
“On the field, he stepped right in as a true freshman and contributed to our football team. Off the field, he was mature beyond his years. Janice and I extended our deepest sympathies and condolences to John’s family, friends and teammates.”
Neal Brown, Johnson’s second coach at Troy, called Johnson a “great representative of Troy.”
“I was devastated to learn of the passing of John Johnson yesterday,” Brown said in the press release. “John was a great representative of his hometown Troy, the Troy football program and Troy University.
“On the field, I will always remember John’s knack for trick plays and his strong performance in his last game in the 2017 New Orleans Bowl. More importantly, I will remember John’s big smile, how he loved children, and how he led our football team in community service for three years in a row. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and former teammates. An immensely talented young man, gone way too soon.”
For more on this story, check back later Friday night to dothaneagle.com and in Saturday’s Dothan Eagle.