SPRINGFIELD — Looking at football with the wide-ranging eyes of a quarterback has given D’Andre Johnson a perspective that has elevated his skills as a wide receiver.
The Effingham County senior has played both positions with aplomb this season. He shares the starting quarterback spot with Zach Garcia.
“To be honest, learning to play quarterback really helped me out as a receiver because it helped me break down the defense faster,” Johnson said. “As a quarterback, you have to dissect everything. You have to know what is going on in the box, on the perimeter and you have to know if anybody is coming — what kind of front they are running.”
Johnson said receivers have a much narrower focus.
“... you just have to look at two or three things,” he said. “You have to look at the cornerback, the safety and the outside linebacker if you are running an inside route.”
Johnson and his fellow receivers are given keys by their coaches that help them recognize coverages.
“When I line up across from somebody, I can tell by their stance if they are running a Cover Three’, if they are manning up or — it’s rare — if they are running a cornerback blitz or something like that,” he said. “It all has its benefits, I guess.”
Johnson has alternated between quarterback and receiver seamlessly.
“It’s not as difficult as you might think,” he said.
Johnson started under center in an 18-14 loss to Evans. Garcia got the starting quarterback nod in a 54-0 rout of Groves.
Both players have directed the Rebels’ offense with success.
“We’ve grown together,” Johnson said. “He’s helped me a lot at quarterback and I’ve helped him with like learning when to run and when not to. We’ve helped each other get comfortable I guess you could say.”
Johnson said he will be content regardless of gets to start at quarterback.
“I want to do whatever gets us wins — to be honest,” he said. “There’s no point in being a selfish player. If two people can help get the job done, then why not?
“We saw it (in 2016) when we had Jerid (Stokes) and Zebrandon (Gant), and that was crazy. We had this big, ol’ dude (Gant) basically running like a Wildcat (formation).”
Johnson is a shifty runner but he believes the Rebels’ opponents will be make a mistake if they don’t respect his throwing skills.
“We have people who play against us and think that I am just a running quarterback but sometimes I pop up and hit them with an RPO (run-pass option),” he said. “I can hit them unexpectedly.”
I want to do whatever gets us wins — to be honest. There’s no point in being a selfish player.Effingham County quarterback/receiver D'Andre Johnson