War Eagle Extra

Former Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson takes blame for disappointing collegiate career, eyes ‘new beginning’

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

The last two months working in Orlando with trainer Tom Shaw has done wonders for former Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson’s confidence.

Johnson was all smiles after Auburn’s pro day Friday at the program’s athletic facility where he ran through a series of drills (including the 40-yard dash) and positions workouts with former teammates Marcus Davis and Tony Stevens.

The quarterback’s upbeat demeanor was a far cry from one he displayed the last time he was in front of reporters following a 35-19 loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. “With this deal, it’s all about catching one eye,” Johnson said. “I feel like I caught a couple eyes and a lot of guys are going to be in touch with me.”

Johnson credits Shaw, who has worked with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, for giving his throwing mechanics a much-needed makeover.

“He taught me a lot as far as throwing and accuracy,” Johnson said. “He was big on that.”

The trainer worked with Johnson on the way the quarterback grips the ball, which improved his accuracy.

Shaw also spent a considerable amount of time helping Johnson get comfortable under center. Johnson didn’t take many snaps from the position at Auburn, but is confident he can run a pro-style offense in the NFL.

“He got me to this position and he did a great job as you see today.” Johnson said. “I was pretty accurate as far as footwork and taking it under center. It felt good. It felt like I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Shaw is providing the kind of detailed instruction Johnson referred to when he said he wanted to get “coached up a little more” after the Sugar Bowl.

“Coming out of high school, I was coached, but I never had a quarterback coach and here the situation was what it was,” Johnson said Friday.

Johnson refrained from criticizing his former coaches — “I love coach Malzahn and coach Lashlee” — but made it clear he didn’t feel like himself at Auburn for a “long time.”

“It’s been a minute,” Johnson said. “I faced a lot of adversity here, but I’m back to myself. A new era, a new beginning. I’m just looking forward to what’s next in my life.”

It’s why Johnson is reluctant to rehash his turbulent career at Auburn that saw him go from a Heisman hopeful in 2015 to benched three weeks into the season following an embarrassing loss to LSU.

“It’s my fault,” Johnsons said of his struggles. “It is what it is. I’ll leave it at that.”

Johnson wouldn’t discuss whether he considered transferring or quitting the team after Sean White was named the team’s starter before the 2016 opener.

“The most important thing was being a man of integrity,” Johnson said. “I fell like what I’ve been through helped me become a man and mature me. I just love being around these guys. I feel OK, the past is past and I’m looking towards the future.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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