In our "Football Player Radar" Series we highlight promising football players that are flying below the radar.
Matt Johns played QB for University of Virginia
Career: 45 games (17 starts), 372 completions and 628 attempts for 59.2%, 4,223 yards, 30 TDs, 27 INTs, long of 80 yards, 123.0 pass efficiency, 89 rushes for 185 yards, 2 TDs, long of 42 yards
Notable: Concludes UVA career No. 10 all-time with 4,233 career passing yards ... concludes UVA career with 30 passing touchdowns which ranks No. 5 all-time in UVA history ... his 11 games of passing for 200 or more yards is tied with Michael Rocco and Marques Hagans for No. 5 all-time in UVA history.
Q&A WITH MATT JOHNS
Q: What is the fondest memory of your college career and/or semi-pro?
My fondest memory would have to be my very first game playing quarterback against UCLA in 2014. It was the first game of the season, and I came off the bench with 1:20 left in the first half. I threw a fade to my best friend Canaan Severin (current Steelers wide receiver) and then scrambled a play later for a first down. The next play I threw another fade to Andre Levrone to score our first TD of the game. I turned around to look at the hill packed with fans and the entire stadium erupted. It was something I will never forget, and a great entrance to college football.
Q: Who was the toughest competitor you faced in college and/or semi-pro?
The toughest player I ever played against was Jaylon Smith for Notre Dame. We would have him accounted for each play, but he was still in on almost every tackle. I felt his hits multiple times under the chin, but still managed to get the throws off. Unbelievable athlete and great competitor.
Q: What was your best game in college or semi-pro football?
My best game was against Notre Dame in 2015. We came back from two 12-point deficits. We drove to take the lead with about 2 minutes left in the game against the #4 ranked Irish. Unfortunately, we lost with 12 seconds left, but I felt that I had a strong presence and made big time plays in crucial moments.
Q: What was your favorite NFL team growing up?
My favorite team was the Pittsburgh Steelers. I grew up watching Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox. I still have a picture of Jack Lambert in my room!
Q: Who was your favorite player?
My favorite player was probably Heinz Ward. He was a fierce competitor and played the game so hard. He managed to have fun and smile a lot while playing, which I enjoyed watching.
Q: Which current NFL player most resembles you?
I have been compared to Matt Ryan for my tall/lean frame, primarily a pocket passer, but can make plays with his feet when he needs to.
Q: What would your former teammates say about you?
My former teammates would say that I was a fierce competitor, loyal teammate, and an accountable leader. They would say my work ethic sets me apart from other players in college football, and the could rely on me in any situation, on or off the field.
Q: What are you presently doing as far as training?
Myself and 5 other teammates are training at UVA. One of our strength coaches, Kevin Heiberger, trained aspiring NFL athletes down at IMG in Florida. We are getting the same training that other players are getting at the big name facilities. We train 6 days a week. His expertise is extremely helpful and we enjoy working with him. I have been throwing 4-5 days a week with Keeon Johnson. Some former teammates, Darius Jennings (WR for the Jets), and David Watford (WR for the Eagles) came back to throw with us for a few weeks. It’s been a great experience so far.
Q: What is your favorite combine drill (40, Shuttle, 3-Cone, Bench, Broad, Vert)?
I can’t say that I have a favorite drill!
Q: Why do you believe you have been flying below the radar as a football player?
I think that going through three coaching staffs has kept me under the radar. I have had 3 different QB coaches and Offensive Coordinators in 5 years. I enjoyed learning from Bill Lazor, Steve Fairchild, and Jason Beck. Since our program has lacked winning success in the past, it has kept my exposure under the radar.
Q: What do you want to do besides football?
I would like to coach one day!
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy trying new restaurants and playing video games with my friends.
Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Jordan Spieth. They are all the best in their respective sports. I enjoy how they handle themselves outside of competing. They all maintain very low-key life styles.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @MJohns5
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