Johnson leads the way with 210 total yards in Missouri victory

Johnson recorded 210 total yards of offense and two touchdowns on Saturday.

The last time Missouri had a major threat at wide receiver was in 2013.

That was when the nation’s third-ranked recruit out of high school, Dorial Green-Beckham, was stampeding down the sidelines of Faurot Field. After stellar freshman and sophomore seasons, Green-Beckham was kicked off the Missouri football team following a domestic violence scandal.

Mizzou found a new receiving threat Saturday night in its 61-21 win over Eastern Michigan. This time around, the threat was a three-star recruit in high school who didn’t play his freshman year.

Johnathon Johnson suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 2015 preseason scrimmage, forcing him to miss his true freshman season. After being forced to take the year off, Johnson was anxious to get back on the field.

“My ankle started feeling back right (this summer),” Johnson said after Saturday’s game. “I knew that it was time to go.”

Johnson came into this season listed as Missouri’s top slot receiver, beating out Alabama transfer Chris Black. It seemed his spot was up for grabs after Black recorded six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown in Mizzou’s week one loss to West Virginia. Meanwhile, Johnson only recorded one catch.

To the surprise of many, coach Barry Odom maintained his faith in Johnson and kept him atop the depth chart. Johnson repaid his coach by showcasing that he has the ability to become the Tigers’ newest go-to receiver.

Johnson first made an impact by scoring Mizzou’s first legitimate punt return touchdown since 2014, a 54-yard sprint to the end zone after he mishandled the original kick.

“It was scramble mode,” Johnson said. “I had to pick it back up. I knew I had muffed it. I was just trying to get it back up and cut across the field.”

Nine minutes later, Johnson showcased his speed again with what could become one of the highlights of the season for this Missouri team.

With the Tigers pinned on their own 13-yard line, Johnson cut off his left foot to catch a bubble screen from Drew Lock. Although that type of play is usually just designed to pick up a few yards, Johnson had other ideas.

Johnson used his blinding speed to cut upfield past Eastern Michigan’s secondary. Just 15 seconds later, he was celebrating with his teammates in the endzone after putting his team up 26-7.

Johnson finished the day with five receptions for 125 yards along with the touchdown. He also recorded 74 yards returning punts and had one kick return for 21 yards. All together, Johnson recorded a team-high 210 all-purpose yards.

“It’s exciting for him and our team,” Odom said. “We just need to give him a crease and he’ll make something happen. He can be a special one.”

Edited by Theo DeRosa | tderosa@themaneater.com

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