Penn Hills grad Johnson displays confidence at defensive back for Thiel
As a freshman last season, Trou’ Johnson was just looking to get on the football field for Thiel.
However after starting eight of 10 games last season, Johnson entered his sophomore year knowing his role as a starting cornerback for the Tomcats.
Johnson, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, has felt comfortable and confident in the early going but is still looking to get his first interception of the season.
In the first three games, Johnson has collected 18 tackles and two pass breakups.
Johnson, a Penn Hills alum, made four tackles and had his two pass breakups for Thiel (0-3, 0-2) in a 44-16 loss to Alfred to start the season Sept 1.
In the second week, Johnson made nine tackles in a 55-0 loss to Washington & Jefferson in Presidents’ Athletic Conference action. Most recently, the Tomcats lost to Geneva, 27-14, in PAC action on Sept. 15.
“It didn’t start out the way we planned. But the first two games were the hardest two games of the season,” Johnson said.
“The game against Geneva was a game that we all thought we should’ve won. But it’s coming down to us playing harder. We could’ve easily won that but it was the effort.”
Johnson, who was selected as a team captain this season, is coming off an inaugural campaign where he recorded 27 tackles, an interception, two pass break ups and three passes defended.
For his efforts, Johnson was selected as Thiel’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year. Johnson was also named to the PAC honorable mention team.
“It meant a lot because I wasn’t expecting it. I was happy because all the hard work was paying off. I called my mom as soon as I found out,” Johnson said.
“I didn’t know I was making that much of an impact. It was real surprising. I knew I was having a decent season, but I didn’t know I was making that much of splash to where the other teams were noticing me.”
During the offseason, Johnson could be seen working out at Penn Hills with his high school teammates — AZ Britt (Clarion), Cam Tarrant (California) and Jeremy Hamilton (Notre Dame College). Johnson decided against playing rugby, which he did heading into his freshman season.
“Those are my guys. We always try to make sure we check up on each other almost every day. We were competing over the summer and making each other better,” Johnson said.
Even though the Tomcats might not be seeing the results in the standings, Johnson noticed a difference in the level of competition during practices this season.
Johnson believes this year’s team is more talented than last year’s team. The Tomcats finished 1-9 overall with a 1-7 record in the PAC. Thiel’s lone win last season came against Bethany, 28-13, on Sept. 16.
“The practices were way more competitive and way more hype than last year. The freshmen came in really fighting for their spots. They showed the upperclassmen that we really are going to have to work or they are going to come in and take all our spots,” Johnson said.
“There is a lot more talent than there was last year. Hopefully, that talent can get us some W’s. I think we’re more glued together than last year.”
Andrew John is a freelance writer.