For every player that makes it to the NFL there is at least one moment where he doubted that he had what it took to play at the highest level–for some there were doubts that they could even play at the highest level of college.
But for those who persevere through those doubts, more times than not, greatness is waiting on the other side.
Just as it is for former Orangeburg-Wilkinson star, and former Clemson safety, Jadar Johnson.
After nearly leaving the Tigers’ program during his freshman season, Johnson patiently waited for his time to shine and shine he did.
Beginning in his junior season, tied for second on the team with two interceptions, while contributing 16 tackles over 15 games (one start) while playing behind T.J. Green and Jayron Kearse.
His senior season is where Johnson saw his stock skyrocket, as he was named first-team All-ACC, shared the Tiger Pride MVP Award, was the recipient of the defensive Hustle Awards all while producing 65 tackles, five interceptions and seven pass breakups in 913 snaps played over 15 games (15 starts).
Johnson continued to impress at the East-West Shrine Game, drawing the attention of NFL.com senior writer and draft expert Lance Zierlein.
“Explosive height, weight, speed prospect with terrific ball skills,” Zierlein wrote about Johnson. “Johnson has starting NFL potential.”
That feeling was further confirmed by a defensive backs coach from the NFC who said that Johnson was “the guy who looked the most like an NFL player at the Shine practices.”
The one thing that could keep Johnson’s name from being called on the first two days of the draft are questions about his ability to help in run support.
“He must improve his run support to be a long-time starter in the league,” Zierlein wrote.
However, wherever Johnson lands they are sure to get someone who understands the work required to achieve their goals.
“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,” Harvey Johnson said about his son.
“He may not get drafted early, but he will get a second contract because he loves football, he studies football, he loves 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.”
Most draft projections have Johnson as a fifth or sixth round prospect, with Johnson having had extensive talks with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I’ve been talking to the Jaguars a lot. I’ve been talking to the Chargers and I’ve been talking to the Vikings. Those are the top three right now, I’ve been talking to them a lot,” Johnson said.
“With those teams, they said that I fit the type of need that they need for a safety. They haven’t really talked rounds or how early or how late they will pick me, but they still said that their interest is real high with those three teams.”