R ashaad Johnson should have his own plaque in the University of Alabama football complex. And under his picture should appear the words, “If you’ll do what Nick Saban says, this could be you.”
Johnson was on the front end of the current runaway freight train of success in Tuscaloosa, mowing everything and everyone down in its path. A walk-on, Johnson worked his way onto the field, eventually winning the praise and starting nod from this generation’s Bear Bryant.
After the 2008 season, Johnson was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Bama, after going draftless the year before, put four in the league in 2009. Johnson was the fourth and final of those Tiders, going in the 3rd round, the 95th overall pick. Johnson helped start a trend where Bama now routinely puts four in the 1st round, let alone the draft itself.
Five years later, the Cardinals still want Rashaad around, on Monday inking a new 3-year deal and counting on him for a larger role in the secondary in 2013. All this while on the same day they let Beanie Wells go, their 1st round pick of that same draft.
An organization, any organization, doesn’t keep people around that long who aren’t productive, who don’t contribute, and who are not deemed an asset to the overall good of the organization.
In short, Rashaad Johnson is good people. And you can bet the work ethic that keeps him in good graces originated on the practice fields under the tutilege of Nick Saban.
On January 3, 2007, Nick Saban explained why he and Terry wanted to get back into college coaching: Having an effect on young players. Molding them. Changing their lives. Instilling in them the right spirit so that they can inherit the opportunities they create for themselves. Rashaad Johnson, once a marginal player who found himself on the wrong side of the law, should be the poster child for Saban’s sentiment.
Most who come through Saban’s camp “get” the process. Some don’t, and as they say, you can’t fix stupid. But Rashaad Johnson, a young man with an unbelievably bright future, is better off today because he did.