UNIVERSITY PARK — Jeremy Johnson had a productive junior season at SMU, leading the Mustangs with 67 catches for 679 yards while scoring three touchdowns. And in an October 2012 loss at Tulane, the John Tyler product had his first 100-yard receiving game as a collegian, catching 11 passes for 106 yards and one score in a tough one-point loss to the Green Wave.
Now a senior, Johnson is happy with what he has accomplished thus far for SMU, but he also wants to finish his career on a high note, which could mean a BCS bowl berth since the Mustangs are now a member of the newly formed American Athletic Conference.
“I think we can be real good. We’re getting closer as a family. I just think that’s more important, the most important thing. I’m just glad we’re going to be moving forward,” he said.
SMU head coach June Jones, who like Johnson is a former quarterback, is impressed with what his veteran pass catcher brings to a talented receiving corps.
“He’s a hard worker,” Jones said. “Having a quarterback background, he’s been a real leader for the young guys in showing them what to do when they came here. He’s just a class guy, a leader and a winner.”
And having that background as a high school signal-caller from his days with the Lions has not only earned the respect of his head coach, but Mustangs starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert as well. Gilbert, a fellow senior who is entering his second season at SMU after transferring from Texas, likes the fact that he and his No. 1 receiver think along similar lines.
“Being a high school quarterback, he understands the offensive game of football. He understands coverages. He understands reads very well,” Gilbert said. “I feel comfortable and confident talking to and telling him what I see as a quarterback and I feel like we’re seeing the same thing down the field and coverage wise.”
Johnson is just one member of a talented and highly successful senior class that has been to a bowl game every year of his time at SMU, a streak he’d obviously like to see continue in 2013.
“Yeah, we actually got used to it. As soon as we came here, we’ve been going to bowl games. I know it wasn’t like that before, but ever since we got here, we’ve been going to bowl games. I think we had a little something to do with that,” he said. “It’s just been great. The expectations are still there and we still expect to go to a bowl game and even more.”
But his biggest fan might be the person who will be throwing him the ball for a second straight season.
“He’s a very smart kid and he’s got great hands. He catches everything,” Gilbert said. “He’s going to be a playmaker for us and I’m excited about having him as one of our targets this year.”
Steve Hunt is a Frisco-based freelance writer.