A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Jadar Johnson and his father about their journey and what they have learned through the last four years.
Below is a transcript of my interview with Jadar’s father, Harvey Johnson:
The speech that Jadar gave at the national championship celebration–What was that like for you?
“It feels amazing. That speech that he gave at the National Championship celebration, I don’t like to cry in the public, but it made me cry. It made me very emotional, just for him to remember and just to think about the things that we did, as a family the sacrifices that we made. It is an awesome journey though, and if I had to make those sacrifices again I would make those sacrifices and more.”
Did you ever wonder if Jadar would be able to back-up his talk this season?
“I didn’t look at his talk like a lot of other people looked at it. If you ask him about a specific player, he’s gonna give you what he thinks. He’s gonna tell you what he thinks about that player–like that J.T. Barrett situation. He said that he’s a good player, but he’s not the best passer and not the best player that we’ve faced. And that was just football analysis. They played against Lamar Jackson. They played against the best quarterback in the country, next to Deshaun Watson. I don’t look at it as bragging, I just look at it as being honest. He didn’t know what bulletin board material even was–I didn’t either. But you ask a player a question, because I’ve always taught him to be humble, but when you are talking football to him–he’s going to speak football to you and he’s going to tell you what he thinks.”
What has the journey been like for you and your wife?
“The journey, as parents, you want the best for your kids. The journey has been tough, but it has been real rewarding at the same time. He may not go in the early rounds, but I know, just like at Clemson, once he gets on the field he will get a second contract. He may not get drafted early, but he will get a second contract because he loves football, he studies football, he lives football. He has a lot to improve on, and the good thing about that is that he knows he has a lot to improve on. Now it’s just wait and see, but the journey to get to this point–it’s been up, it’s been down.”
Describe the emotions that are going to be felt on draft day
“For me, that’s going to be an emotional night because football is what I wanted to do. For whatever reasons, I didn’t even go to college, but it’s going to be so emotional becuase he’s not only living his dream–he’s living my dream. For this to be happening, and he wanted this from four years old and always wanting to play division one and then get on into the NFL, for that to be put into play so early in his life and now it’s actually happening it’s going to be so emotional. Whether it’s first round or sixth round, it doesn’t matter it’s going to be emotional.”
What were your thoughts in Jadar’s first season when he wanted to leave Clemson?
“Actually, I was so confused when all of that was happening, but my wife she stood tough. She was like, ‘Jadar’s not coming back home. We don’t have money to pay for college. He’s going to college free and he’s going stay at Clemson and he’s going to finish school.’ It was more her, because I was getting ready to say, ‘Well, if he wants to do something different?’ But listening to her, sometimes you gotta listen to your spouse, listening to her I was like, you’re right, you’re right. We don’t have money to pay for college, so he’s going to have to tough it out. And now I don’t think I would have let him come home, but I was being more sympathetic than she was. She went to see him that next day, and he thought she was coming to pick him up. She was like, ‘No, I just came to see you. You’re not going back home, you’re not going home.’ She left me at home and I think it was a good thing that she left me at home.”
What would be your message to other parents who find themselves in your shoes?
“The message is that if you make the sacrifices and stand behind your kids they will grow. It may take some pushing–some of them you have to push more than others, but they will grow. When I hear him speak now, sometimes I don’t believe that he’s my son. There were times when he wouldn’t talk. He was just so shy. He was so shy that if you asked him a question all you got was that direct answer. If it was a yes or no question–all you got was a yes or a no. Now he elaborates. When I hear him speak now I’m like, ‘God, is that Jadar?’ He’s come a long way, but if you make the sacrifices and you push your kids you’ll get results.”