FSU’s Jermaine Johnson flies 3 bags and fumes against Miami
Jermaine Johnson will only get one chance to play in the rivalry between Florida and Miami. And all he needed was one game to produce one of the greatest shows ever in series history.
The well-traveled defensive end — who hails from Minnesota, went to college prep in Kansas and played the last two seasons in Georgia before moving to FSU this off-season — was an absolute threat to Saturday’s attacking hurricanes.
In helping the Seminoles to a 31-28 victory, Johnson recorded seven tackles, five tackles for a loss and three sacks. It also forced confusion.
*** Don’t miss our exclusive football coverage. 30 day free trial***
“He was fantastic,” said Etihad coach Mike Norville, adding that Johnson delivered everything the Seminoles could hope for when they knocked him out of the transfer window last December. “What I love about Jermaine is just the attitude and approach he takes every day. You can look out on the field and see all the bags and TFLs and the impacts he made.
“The effect it has on this program — just wanting to help young people, being willing to give oneself, to be an example in those moments, when times are tough and times are tough — I thought it was just a special thing and you’ll see how it turns out.”
Indeed, Johnson has been a force all season in the Seminoles, who improved to 4-6 overall and 3-4 in ACC play with Saturday’s win. He entered the game leading the team – and ranks among the national leaders – with eight sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss.
The FSU coaches had high hopes when they convinced Johnson to head south to Tallahassee last winter, but they never dreamed he would be so close to this production.
In two seasons as a part-time starter in Georgia, Johnson had 7.5 sacks and 8.0 tackle for a loss.
In 10 matches with the Seminoles, he scored 11 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss.
“He played hard tonight,” Norville said. “When you get ready for the way he prepares, it moves on. And in the big moments, you’re ready to go to the big plays. And he definitely did tonight.”
Johnson’s big plays came early and often on Saturdays.
With FSU leading 7-0 halfway through the first quarter, Johnson overcame his blocker in the third play and 15 and took off the ball before Tyler Van Dyck could pass the ball. Defensive end FSU Derek McClendon recovered to stumble into the 12-yard line of Hurricanes, and Jason Corbin ran into a touchdown in the next play.
It was the first of the three Johnson sacks in the game.
“I’m proud of Jermaine,” said his teammate at the defense end Keir Thomas. “We come to work every day, and I just watch how he approaches him. He approaches him like a pro.”
Johnson’s determination was crystal clear early in the fourth quarter, when the FA coaches dispatched several second-team players to give the starter a rest after Van Dijk hit a 19-yard run.
The Hurricanes started that drive on their 27-yard line and only took six plays to reach the Seminoles 26. UM was already one point ahead, and the Fifa was looking to get fresher bodies into the game to stop the Hurricanes from expanding their advantage,
However, Johnson did not have it.
He asked his replacement to return to the sideline, then beat Miami on the right tackle Jared Williams to get a sack in the next game.
“They must have thought I was tired,” Johnson said. “But I knew I had something in the tank. Like I said, I didn’t want to let my teammates go. And I felt I could give our defense the best chance if I stayed on the field, rather than out so I stayed in the game and tried to achieve something.”
Miami ended up signing up for that trip, but Johnson wasn’t done yet.
After FSU reacted by cutting the Hurricanes’ advance to 28-23 with less than five minutes remaining, Johnson was in the third tackle that forced UM to return the ball to Noles.
Less than two minutes later, Jordan Travis was jumping into the end zone for the match-winning score.
“I just wanted to help my brothers win,” said the big passerby. “That was all I could think of… It wasn’t decided yet. The only thing that mattered to me was not to let my team and brothers down…
“I tried to do everything I could. I love these boys, and this is my last Duke Campbell game. I just wanted to make everyone happy. That’s it.”
Talk about this story with other Florida football fans at the Tribal Council