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Another week, another showdown for Johnson

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Rocky Mount defensive player Shyheim Battle (2) left, tackles Conley's Antwain Ruffin (#22) during a game, Friday evening.

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By Aaron Jackson
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

In last week’s high school football match between D.H. Conley and Rocky Mount, two Division I college commits to N.C. State and East Carolina University went heads up.

The Rocky Mount Gryphons got the win, with NCSU defensive back commit Shyheim Battle snagging an interception to close out the game tight game, 25-21.

Though the Gryphons won the game, Vikings wide receiver and ECU commit C.J. Johnson stole the show with three touchdowns, two receiving and one on the ground, showing his dominance all over the field.

“He is the heartbeat of the team,” Conley head coach Nate Conner said. “His effort is unmatched and he plays nonstop in all phases of the game.”

Johnson was all over the field against Rocky Mount. The Pirate commit played many roles in the game, from punting to covering the Gryphons’ wide receivers late in the game.

The wide receiver did not back down from the matchup against Battle, catching two touchdowns. The first receiving score came on a slip screen that went 51 yards. The second was on a goal line catch for six yards.

The high level of competition is something Johnson loves.

“It doesn’t make a difference to me. Nobody makes me play harder. I play hard every day,” Johnson said of the second straight week he’s faced a Division I commit after opening the season by squaring off with Northeastern defender and fellow ECU commit Traveon Freshwater. “I’m never gonna let anyone outwork me.”

Conner believes the best thing about Johnson is his work ethic on the field and in the weight room. According to the coach, the competition doesn’t change who he is because he practices the same way he plays and is eager for competition, ready to take on anybody.

“He studies, he has a great work ethic on the field and he sets the tone for everything we do,” Conner said. “He’s just a phenomenal football player.”

Johnson graduates in 2019 and plans to attend ECU to continue his athletic career. He has the chance to join a loaded roster at East Carolina, which has been known to produce wide receivers for NFL teams like Justin Hardy for the Atlanta Falcons and Zay Jones for the Buffalo Bills in recent years.

When asked why he chose ECU, Johnson simply replied, “Why not? It’s home.”

He will join former teammate quarterback Holton Ahlers who was a top prospect for ECU in 2017.

Johnson saw offers from UNC, Duke, N.C. State and Virginia Tech, but ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery and offensive coordinator Tony Petersen won him over.

“It felt like we had a connection,” Johnson said. “When I went in it felt like I had known them forever.”

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