Troy freshman MJ Johnson impressing early

Published 10:56 am Monday, August 7, 2023

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Enterprise native Mykel “MJ” Johnson has been making an early impression on his coaches and teammates during fall camp thus far.

Johnson comes to Troy as a true freshman following a standout career at nearby Enterprise High School. Johnson earned All-State honors twice during his Enterprise career and also earned Southeast Sun Elite 11 three times and Dothan Eagle Super 12 twice. He spent the majority of his career as a running back, tallying over 3,000 yards on the ground, which was the second most in school history. His 20 rushing touchdowns as a junior was also a single-season school record.

As a senior Johnson moved to receiver, a position he had sparingly played before that, and caught 33 passes for 632 yards and eight touchdowns. He also rushed for 484 yards and seven touchdowns and returned a school-record four kickoffs for touchdowns as a senior.

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That versatility is what drew Troy coach Jon Sumrall to Johnson, and he also saw similarities between Johnson and another Troy playmaker.

“I watched MJ’s film every week last season and at the end of the season I thought this looks like Jabre,” Sumrall recalled. “Then, I put on Jabre’s high school and I thought this is Jabre. He’s kind of like a junior version of Jabre. He’s a local kid, like Jabre, and played a lot of running back like Jabre did. Now, he’s playing the slot (receiver) like Jabre.”

Barber has been one of Troy’s best playmakers of the past few seasons and that comparison also led to Barber serving as Johnson’s mentor during the summer.

“It’s really cool to see two local kids in our summer transition program together, MJ’s ‘big borther’ in that program was Jabre,” Sumrall said. “It’s really neat to see two local kids, very talented and both good young men, in that same role. I think Jabre will help MJ and I’m excited to see what MJ does.”

Johnson said that he’s leaned on Barber for advice.

“Jabre has been big for me,” Johnson emphasized. “I ask him things every day, every second almost, and he’s always there with the answer. He for sure is getting me where I need to be.”

Barber said that he’s happy to help his younger teammate and believes he can help the Troy offense early.

“His speed is really what stands out,” Barber said of Johnson. “He will for sure help our offense and with him being young, there will be a big role for him.”

Johnson said that despite the long history of the Enterprise-Dothan rivalry, they’re both Trojans now.

“Yeah, there’s that rivalry but we’re both Troy now,” Johnson said. “We’re on the same team now and that’s pretty cool.”

Through the first week of practice, and the summer, Sumrall has been impressed with what he’s seen from the Enterprise freshman.

“I talked to him about the middle of the summer and told him he’s not allowed to even think about redshirting; he’s playing,” Sumrall emphasized. “I have high expectations of what he can accomplish as a true freshman.”

Johnson said he’s focusing on his conditioning as fall camp continues, which will help him get on the field early.

“My conditioning is really what I’m working on, and making sure I’m available,” he said. “I just want to do the best I can, so that I can get on the field here at Troy.”