He grew up eager to play for the New York Soccer Giants. He wore No. 91 in highschool as a result of Justin Tuck was a hero. He wore No. 92 his first three years in faculty as a result of 91 was unavailable, and Michael Strahan was a hero, too. And on a merciless cutdown day within the NFL, when so many childhood desires have been shattered, there was cheering in Sumter, S.C., and at Georgia Southern:
Their dreamer, their underdog, made it.
Nothing is etched in stone, in fact — between now and the beginning of the common season, there are all the time vacancies on the Heartbreak Lodge — however at 4 p.m. Tuesday, defensive finish Raymond Johnson III, the final man standing of the three unsigned free brokers, was a New York Large.
“I’ve been attempting to remain calm all day,” he stated with a smile following apply,”however undoubtedly a milestone for me.”
The Giants despatched him to his first interview podium on the patio on the most important day of his soccer life. He’s 6-foot-3, 270 kilos and wears Tuck’s 91 proudly — and picked his mind when the Tremendous Bowl hero visited camp originally of August.
“Hey man,” he recollects Tuck telling him, “anyone can not put on this quantity, so that you higher be proper.”
When he walked off the rostrum, I requested him about Strahan.
“Initially I began off and I appreciated Tiki Barber and stuff as a result of I assumed I used to be an offensive participant,” Johnson stated with a smile. “However Michael, man, he modified the sport, man, he was so disruptive. Each time I turned on the display screen, it was like he was all around the discipline making performs, I’m like, ‘I wish to be like that man once I become old.’ ”
Fairytales can come true, they will occur to you.
“I believe it was third grade or second grade, he wrote a report about being on the New York Giants when he was a child,” father Raymond Johnson II instructed The Submit. “For him, all this is sort of a fairytale dream simply coming to go.”
The street was not with out potholes on the journey.
“When he was taking part in rec ball,” his father stated, “he was form of all the time missed. … Then he received to center faculty soccer and he received missed once more within the seventh grade and he received discouraged and didn’t wish to play anymore. After which within the eighth grade I pressured him to return on the market.”
Raymond Johnson III: “Now you bought higher gamers, much more expertise and stuff, and I believe I wasn’t reacting proper to it … simply able to give up as a result of it wasn’t going my manner. … [Dad] would inform me … nothing value having is ever simple on this life.”
He started opening eyes at Sumter Excessive Faculty, although not main faculty eyes, as a result of he was thought-about a undertaking. By now he relished being the underdog.
“I take delight in that,” Johnson III stated. “Park and rec, I felt like I used to be all the time missed, there have been all the time guys that folks checked out greater than me, and I all the time felt like I had that it issue. I began seeing success in highschool, began turning into a recognized man within the state, I felt like I ought to have been ranked larger.”
He went on to turn into All-Solar Belt Convention first staff his final two years at Georgia Southern, and naturally he wasn’t drafted. It motivates him to today.
“The whole lot I do, man, I take that underdog mentality,” Johnson III stated.
The information that Raymond Johnson III had made the 53 was celebrated by Georgia Southern coach Chad Lunsford.
“I really like that it’s paying off for him, ’trigger he is a superb individual, and a very good soccer participant,” Lunsford instructed The Submit.
Raymond Johnson III was voted a captain by the staff.
“We wish guys which might be blue collar, there’s nothing given, all the things’s earned round right here,” Lunsford stated. “We wish disciples guys that may be self-disciplined, after which we would like powerful guys, not solely bodily powerful, however mentally powerful guys. And Raymond simply actually match all of that.”
He grew from a 225-pound pup with assist from Georgia Southern power and conditioning coach Matt Greenhalgh.
“If I may get 100 Raymonds, man, I’d be completely happy, man, ’trigger was simply ‘that man’ for us,” Lunsford stated.
In the course of the season, Johnson III may nearly attain out and contact his dream.
“He was fairly robust all year long going, ‘Coach, man, I simply realize it’s my 12 months, I can really feel it that I’m gonna be capable to attain my objectives and my dream,’ ” Lunsford stated. “And, to get this information immediately, it simply fires me up, man, as a result of he knew it, and he went and received it and he earned it.”
Giants coach Joe Decide expressed confidence Johnson will proceed to get higher.
“Yeah, he’s a high-motor man, he’s undoubtedly proven some pass-rush abilities for us,” Decide stated. “He’s a younger participant growing, quiet man, huge character so far as the smile. … Undoubtedly will get on the market and works arduous for us every single day. He can play to his size. He’s nonetheless far-off from the place he’s going to be as a participant, halfway by way of this 12 months and this 12 months, subsequent 12 months, and that point he’s going to maintain on getting higher. That’s going to occur due to his dedication to the method and work ethic.”
Johnson, who obtained $130,000 in ensures, was requested what he brings to Decide’s Giants, and he drew laughs when he stated: “Apart from the plain causes, younger legs, low-cost …”
He’s properly conscious that nothing is assured, nevertheless. At the moment’s 53 can change tomorrow.
“With the snap of a finger,” Johnson stated. “I really feel just like the second you turn into complacent every single day, you cease getting higher, so I’m all the time seeking to get higher.”
If he does, higher days are forward for him.
His mom Yvonne: “That’s been Raymond’s dream since he was a child. “I don’t even have phrases.”
His father, Raymond Johnson II:
“I by no means in my wildest desires thought that I’d have a son within the NFL.”
Large day for all of them.