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Countdown Schmountdown: #23

The atomic clock actually says that we have just 23 days until the Ducks hit the blue turf (hard).

So, today we'll continue our countdown by briefly highlighting the Bronco player with the jersey number that corresponds with the number of days remaining till the opener. Sorry there isn't a more clear and concise way to explain that. Drew's computer is fixed...Huzzah!

And we're off...

#23 Jeron Johnson, S

Something about Jeron Johnson being called a "safety" strikes me as a bit ironic...opposing players must feel anything but with #23 roaming midfield. I'll be frank, Jeron Johnson scares the crap out of me—and I'm usually at least 50 yards away or in an armchair in my living room so I can't imagine the unmitigated terror that those that actually have to play against him must feel. You see, it's not just that Jeron Johnson doesn't care about the welfare of those poor souls lining up on offense—it's that he doesn't really seem to care much about his own. An athletic, heady safety with no real knack for self-preservation can be an explosive combination. Exhibit A:

Johnson had a stellar sophomore campaign in 2008, leading the team with 98 tackles (4.5 for loss), 3 fumble recoveries, and 3 INTs en route to being named second team All-WAC. Jeron's 2008 also saw him labeled with the very much undeserved "dirty player" tag from opposing fans and football pundits...mainly because of his late game ejection for "targeting a defenseless player" against Oregon (borderline) and his late hit against San Jose State (stupid). Jeron is a player who clearly feeds off emotion and never takes a play while he occasionally may forget to reign in his physicality, he never has targeted a player for injury or showed any malicious intent. This is the point in the article where I'm sure Duck fans will heap hearty rebuttals at our feet. Bottom line is that opposing fans (Ducks) should look at Jeron Johnson's body of work before labeling him a dirty player...any team in the country would love to have a player of Johnson's ability and competence.

The 5'11" 210 lb. Johnson came to the Broncos from Dominguez High School in Compton, California where he was a four-year letter winner and two-time San Gabriel Valley League defensive MVP. He was named to the Press Telegram's Dream Team as a senior after finishing his season with 148 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 INTs, and 5 forced fumbles. His junior year was fruitful as well, as he notched 118 tackles, 3 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. It's easy to forget that at the beginning of the 2007 season, the Broncos were scratching their collective heads about how they would replace Gerald Alexander. The coaching staff decided to let freshmen Jeron Johnson and Jason Robinson battle it out in the most public venues...actual games. Soon it became clear that Jeron held the edge...mainly because the Broncos struggled mightily (especially against the run) when Johnson was absent. Needless to say, Spring of 2008 did not provide the hand wringing of the previous year at the safety position. Jeron looks poised to have a strong junior campaign for the Broncos and has enthusiastically accepted his leadership role on the D. No doubt he's learned better when to unload on opponents (when the ball is snapped), and when to shut it down (when the whistle blows) and should provide another slew of youtube-worthy hits. Johnson's hard-hitting ways are no longer under-the-radar for opposing teams—and in this case that is a very good thing. Offensive players know who owns that section of turf, and avoid it at all costs...for their own "safety", of course.