Michael Johnson plans to be watching Saturday night when Georgia will try to clinch the SEC East title at Auburn.
The former Georgia wide receiver best known for catching the game-winning 19-yard touchdown from David Greene in a 24-21 victory against the Tigers in the Bulldogs’ 2002 SEC championship season is coaching receivers himself these days back in his home state of Oklahoma.
Johnson is an assistant coach at Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School, which has a first-round state playoff game Friday night.
“I don’t miss too many of the games,” Johnson said. “I have my routine. We go out on Fridays, we kick butt and then on Saturdays, it’s all about Bulldogs.”
Johnson was on the receiving end of some questions when I caught up with him this week:
Q: Georgia can win the SEC East at Auburn on Saturday like you guys did 10 years ago. What do you make of that?
A: I think they’ve got a great chance going down there. Coach Richt’s got the boys balling pretty good. They control their own destiny.
Q: Does it feel like it’s been 10 years or longer than that even?
A: Well, to me, it feels like it was just yesterday, but people keep telling me I’m getting older. I don’t see it. It’s amazing it’s been that long since I’ve been playing college football at Georgia. I guess it has been.
Q: How is it coaching receivers?
A: It’s been like a little roller-coaster. Just been doing this for a little while, getting into the coaching thing. Eventually I think I do want to advance my coaching career to college, but I thought I needed to start at ground zero and work my way up.
Q: How often does somebody talk to you about 70-X Takeoff? I guess in Oklahoma not as much.
A: Oh, man. It’s kind of funny. Everytime around the Auburn game people bring it back up. If I say my name to somebody, it rings a bell. Are you the guy that caught the ball against Auburn? Yes. Oh, ok. That’s kind of like I remember coach Richt saying, “That footprint in Georgia history will never go away.’ I guess he’s right about that.
Q: You played more in that game because of Terrence Edwards injury?
A: I played more in that game because we had a couple of injuries. I played more of a starting role because Damien Gary that was out and Terrence Edwards was out. I still played my normal snaps. I was just more of a possession receiver and a big blocking receiver and when they went down, I remember coach Richt and coach (John) Eason definitely telling me it was time to step up. I had a lot to help that game with Terrence and Damien, those two young speedy guys and me being a big bodied receiver, it was something different. It’s funny that people say you’re memories are what you hold onto the best. It is. It seems like yesterday. It was a cold day down there in Auburn(52 degrees with 15 mile per hour winds). They brought their A game and we just finished the drill.
Q: Did you know when you caught the ball, what kind of impact that play had?
A: Oh, God no. No. All I remember is it was my oppruntity to help my team win the game. Not nescessarily the SEC East at that time. It was just that was the game at hand that we had to win. I didn’t understand the magnitude that it is now. …It’s amazing. I’m humbled with the opportunity that coach Richt and the Bulldogs gave me for my career.”
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer