NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

BCS National Championship: Manny Johnson quiet as leader for OU

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Wide receiver Manny Johnson appears rather unassuming.

Especially when compared to boisterous personalities on the Oklahoma team like Nic Harris and Gerald McCoy.

But don’t be fooled.

Johnson, OU’s quiet leader, is a big reason why the Sooners will be playing for the BCS National Championship come Thursday.

"Very modest, never brags,” said freshman wide receiver Ryan Broyles. "He’s a great competitor and a great teacher.

"Really a quiet leader, and those are the guys you want on your team.”

No player on the Sooner roster has seen more college games than Johnson, who’s been part of OU’s receiving rotation since stepping on the field as a true freshman in 2005 against TCU.

Despite being a four-year starter, Johnson has been overshadowed by other Sooner pass-catchers like Malcolm Kelly, Juaquin Iglesias and Jermaine Gresham.

But never has he clamored for the ball or complained about his role. Instead, quietly, he’s filled his role, whether that’s been as a slot receiver or as a wideout.

"You can’t get to the national championship without having a lot of guys like Manny,” said assistant offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jay Norvell. "When you’re senior and you’ve been through the ups and downs, you’ve been tempered.

"Manny has wanted to make this a special year. And he’s making it a special year.”

Just as modestly, Johnson will go down as one of the most underrated receivers ever to pass through Norman.

Johnson, who’s had more than 30 catches in each of the last three years, will finish his career with at least 115 receptions, 1,681 yards and 17 touchdowns.

This season, Johnson became the first Sooner wide receiver ever to win Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors after he torched TCU’s vaunted defense for 206 yards receiving and three touchdowns.

He was having a breakout year until suffering a dislocated elbow against Kansas. But he even though he was in pain, Johnson missed only one game before returning to the field wearing a brace.

"It’s been fun, everything you could wish for in college football,” Johnson said. "It’s gone by fast.”

But even after he’s gone, Johnson’s impact will continue with OU’s freshman receivers, many of whom will be counted on next season.

"I think his leadership has really affected our younger players like Ryan Broyles, Dejuan Miller and Jameel Owens,” Norvell said. "They’ve seen how to practice, how to prepare, how to play through injury.

"His example has been the best thing they could see.”

Related Photos
Manny Johnson has 38 receptions and nine touchdowns this season. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN

Manny Johnson has 38 receptions and nine touchdowns this season. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-15d498e8aea48082f1982e6e06d2d3ce.jpg" alt="Photo - Manny Johnson has 38 receptions and nine touchdowns this season. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN" title="Manny Johnson has 38 receptions and nine touchdowns this season. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN"><figcaption>Manny Johnson has 38 receptions and nine touchdowns this season. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-26ad7cb50f3ec629595402c5e9060ddb.jpg" alt="Photo - MANNY JOHNSON: Manuel Johnson runs after a catch in the second half during the college football game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Cincinnati at Gaylord Family -- Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, September 6, 2008. BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN ORG XMIT: KOD" title="MANNY JOHNSON: Manuel Johnson runs after a catch in the second half during the college football game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Cincinnati at Gaylord Family -- Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, September 6, 2008. BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN ORG XMIT: KOD"><figcaption>MANNY JOHNSON: Manuel Johnson runs after a catch in the second half during the college football game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Cincinnati at Gaylord Family -- Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, September 6, 2008. BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN ORG XMIT: KOD</figcaption></figure>
Comments