By Ryan Palencer
AVON — Where many times it seems like the meaning of the term student-athlete gets lost in translation, that’s not the case for Avon senior quarterback/safety Cole Johnson.
Johnson, who will be going to Northwestern next season, was one of 16 seniors named to receive the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athlete Award last month.
“It was so awesome to get to my senior year and be awarded with something that great,” Johnson said. “It is a real honor and to have my coach nominate me for that was awesome.”
For Johnson, the notoriety on the field is special, but it’s the accolades off of it that was the greatest honor.
“I’ve worked really hard in the classroom,” he said. “The football is hard enough, but the work in the classroom really helped me get that.”
Johnson’s nomination came from Avon coach Mark Bless.
“What makes Cole such a great candidate is that, obviously he’s an outstanding student, as far as his GPA, class rank, and a high academic student-athlete,” Bless said. “In addition, his ability to participate in football and baseball in high school (helped).”
In addition to being named a mental attitude award winner by his teammates, Bless looked to Johnson’s intangibles.
“For us, as a football guy, he was a huge team player,” Bless said. “He came in as a sophomore as a quarterback. His first year, he was primarily in a back up role as a quarterback. Then, in his junior year, he knew that we needed some help on defense, he was willing to switch over and be a defensive back for us. Then as a senior, he wanted to come back over because he thought he could help us most as a quarterback. For me, looking at it, that’s the ultimate sign of being a team player — willing to jump around to different positions.”
Standing on the stage with the 15 other honorees at the Indianapolis Colts Complex Feb. 23 brought back some great memories for Johnson.
“It was very humbling,” Johnson said. “I played with a lot of those kids and have seen what a lot of them can do. They’re very good athletes and just to be a part of that group was pretty awesome. It was a great night. It is kind of weird that we are seniors now and we just kind of looked back and lived up the glory days for us now.”
Johnson will be headed to Northwestern after finishing this year at Avon.
“I’m really excited,” Johnson said. “Northwestern is the perfect school for me. It really was the school that I wanted to go to all along. Hearing that I’m going to be signing a letter of intent soon, is just awesome. It’s really a dream come true for me.”
In his time at Avon, Bless said Johnson is his third player to be honored. The other two were Kendall Griffin and Logan Haston.