Though it had been rumored a couple of days before, 1st team All-SEC middle linebacker Micah Johnson made it official that he is returning to the Wildcat football team for his senior year. That perhaps is the one of the single most important pieces of news the UK has had since the end of the regular season.
He is a talent not often seen at the University of Kentucky at the middle linebacker position. He covers the field from sideline to sideline. This also sets up the opportunity for him and his brother Christian Johnson to play their senior season together. Mom and dad Johnson will be doubly proud when they stand down on the field Senior Day at the end of next season. Christian Johnson sat out last season because of academic difficulties along with some injury situations.
Likely, one can exhort the other both athletically and academically. Who does he go to for the advice he needs to make the decision of his life? “Coach Brooks and me have a good relationship and I go to his office several times a year for advice,” Johnson said. “I can call him on the phone and not once did coach Brooks tell me anything for the sake of the program. Not once did he tell, ‘Micah you need to come back.’ He basically put it on me and let me know what he thought of the situation and gave me his input and listened to what I had to say.
“I could go to the combine a run a 4.6-forty, put up 225-pounds,” but that could put me anywhere in the 3rd, 4th, or the 5th round.” He said he wants to come back and do something special. That being, play for a SEC championship or play in a BCS game. He said he hopes to be a first or second round draft pick after next season.
He said he came to Kentucky as an All-American and he wants to leave as an All-American. When he came to UK he wanted to do something special and that’s what he’s back to do. Micah said he has been playing with this brother all his life and he said he and his brother will be eligible and they can do it together. He said he talked to the team to make sure they were on the same page in the things they wanted to accomplish next season.
This is an equally huge stroke for the Kentucky football team, also. Given the loss of the other two linebackers, Johnson, who is the leader of the group, will be an important cog in the returning group. Players likely to replace the missing pieces are Sam Maxwell and Danny Travathan, a true freshman in 2008. Coach Brooks was very high on Travathan at the beginning of fall camp. He stated he was off the charts on all the physical things such speed, strength, and vertical jump.
The other linebacker pieces are Ronnie Sneed in the middle, William Johnson at either outside position, Brandon Thurmond, who is coming off the injured list, Antonio Thomas and a host of others.
Brooks said he talked to Micah three or four times before the end of the season and before the bowl game and then after the bowl game. “My role is to give him my best advice,” Brooks said. Brooks was asked if he was relieved? “No, I wouldn’t say relieved but it’s obviously good to have the second leading tackler on your team return, the leading tackler for loss, first team SEC linebacker by the coaches and has room to improve. If he makes as much improvement next year as he did from last year to this year, he clearly can move up into that first round. With him and Corey Peters coming back in the guts of our defense we clearly can have an outstanding year next year.