Trib HS Insider Q&A: Belle Vernon's Dorian Johnson
When the high school football season started, 6-foot-6 Dorian Johnson weighed a hefty 290 pounds.
With the start of WPIAL playoffs approaching, he's down to 270.
“A lot of water, I guess,” said the Belle Vernon senior offensive tackle, who was committed to Penn State but backed out in September following the sanctions levied against the storied Nittany Lions program.
No matter his size, Johnson has been rated a four-star recruit and the 23rd-best offensive tackle prospect in the Class of 2013, according to Rivals.com. Pitt, Ohio State and Virginia Tech are his main targets, now that Penn State isn't an option.
“It's going pretty good,” said Johnson, who recovered a fumble for a touchdown during a 35-0 victory over Albert Gallatin last Friday in the regular-season finale. “It hasn't been as hectic as it was in the summer, now that we've been in the season. I've been talking to their coaches every week.”
Johnson and Belle Vernon (4-5) open the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs Friday at No. 6 Central Valley (7-2), which was upset in its regular-season finale last week by Beaver Falls.
Q: A touchdown for you last week. Is that a lineman's dream?
A: Oh, yes. Ever since my freshman year, it's been a dream to score a touchdown. It was one of my goals. I remember seeing the ball in the end zone. It was a fumble. I ran after it, and I jumped on it. I didn't think I was in the end zone, but I looked up and the referee had his hands up. All I remember after that is my teammates getting excited. I didn't know what to do.
Q: How good does it feel for you guys to have fought your way back into playoff contention late in the season after a slow start and some injuries early on?
A: It definitely feels good. We faced some adversity. It feels good to know we had a shot at it. It's a new season now.
Q: How special would it be for this team to get past the first round of the WPIAL playoffs? After all, Belle Vernon hasn't done that since 2000 (lost in semifinals).
A: It would be a good accomplishment for the seniors to bring that back to Belle Vernon. It would be pretty cool.
Q: Who's been the biggest influence in your life?
A: It was definitely my pap. He passed away two years ago. One thing he said that made an impact on me was when I was 5 years old. It was my first year of playing football. I thought it was too hard and I wanted to quit. He made me go back the next day. That stuck with me.
Q: What advice would you give to young football players?
A: I would just tell them to enjoy every minute you have with it because time really flies by.