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Scrimmage Play Six: Cam Johnson
Scrimmage Play Six: Cam Johnson
As we gear up for the 2012 football season, we've partnered with the Newsplex to bring you the first ever Scrimmage Play Six Quarterback Camp. We put six members of one of the most impressive quarterback crops in a while in Central Virginia through the paces with Athlelite Factory's Joe Sanford running drills and a whiteboard session during a summer clinic. We also talked with each quarterback about their career up until this point and the upcoming season. Look for video on CBS 19 each night this week at 6 and 11 p.m.
In recent memory on a local level, there have been a number of very successful transitions from wide receiver to quarterback with the standard set by Orange County alum Quintin Hunter making the switch from catching passes to from standout Bradley Starks to throwing them to Amir Waller. Hunter now plays for James Madison University and Waller headed there as well while Starks just graduated from West Virginia University. Buckingham County’s Cam Johnson is looking to become one of the next great dual threat quarterbacks and just like at Orange County four and five years ago.
Johnson was one of Buckingham graduate and VMI-bound quarterback Tarian Ayres favorite targets. But with Ayres gone it’s now Johnson’s chance to take over at quarterback. Last year Johnson got his feet wet as a quarterback late in games as the team’s second stringer. The Knights have made the Group A Division 2 playoffs three straight years and have the skill players to keep the streak intact.
“I want to spread the ball around to all our playmakers, we lost some of them last year but we’ve got a couple back and a couple coming up,” Johnson said. “So I want to spread it out to all of them to get the ball in their hands so they can make plays which will help me showcase my abilities in the backfield too. I want to be able to provide the best offense in order for Buckingham football to win.”
With Johnson at quarterback, junior Kenneth Johnson and sophomore Kyree Koonce at running back, this Buckingham backfield is as athletic as any team in the area and coach Craig Gill loves to pound away at teams on the ground. Cam Johnson tested at 4.59 seconds this spring during the Central Virginia Elite Combine and between his speed and Kenneth Johnson and Koonce’s bruising running style, the Knights have more versatility with the rush than any coach could ask for. But as many yards as this trio looks to pile up on the ground, the Knights will be the most dangerous if Johnson can convert on big third down plays or catch defenses over-stacking the box and connect on the deep ball.
“Having Kyree and Kenneth in the backfield, it provides a comfort level knowing I can hand the ball off to them and get 5 and 10 here and rely on them to pick up the slack where I might not be on my game,” Johnson said. “Their skill, playoff experience, it allows me to focus on what I have to do at quarterback and not worry about anything else.”
And so for this offseason, Johnson has been particularly pleased with one of the hardest parts of playing the role of a dual-threat quarterback -- knowing when to pull the trigger and when to improvise.
“I feel like I know how to read defenses now and decide when its best to tuck-and-run, hand it off or make the pass,” Johnson said. “I’m comfortable making decisions.”
And on the other side of the coin, Johnson is his own harshest critic. He has all the faith in his legs, as he should, but everyday going forward he knows he can become a more polished thrower. Despite flashing an accurate arm at the SP6 camp during drills, it could always be better.
“I’m always trying to improve on something and my passing game could be crisper, it’s not where it want it to be.” Johnson said.
Where once it was Ayres to Johnson it is now Johnson to Ayres in 2012 as Justin Ayres (Tarian’s cousin) looks to have a breakout year at receiver. For the new Ayres, knowing that Johnson comes from a wideout background makes a difference. Johnson knows how they think and react and has an understanding of what its like to be constantly open or constantly blanketed by coverage.
“He knows where we want the ball thrown to, he’s going to put it exactly where he would want it,” Ayres said. “He can relate to us and feels how we feel so we believe in him.”
The feeling is mutual for Johnson. The last three years were all about being a playmaking wideout, and that didn’t come effortlessly.
“Just playing with Tarian these last few years I have a lot of respect and understanding for all the hard work it takes to play at receiver,” Johnson said. “I know the amount of effort that goes into each game where they have to run crisp routes, and then also adjust because not every throw is going to perfect. They’re going to find ways to make spectacular plays and I know where they’re coming from.”
And for rising junior receiver, this team, leadership-wise now belongs to Johnson.
“We think he’s going to be a great quarterback, he’s very versatile,” Ayres said. “And so we’re expecting big things from him.”
In some ways Buckingham is retooling and in other ways they’re set. But if Johnson thrives at quarterback, the rest of the James River District will have their hands full.