Johnson becomes first Oak Mountain player on Alabama roster

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

NORTH SHELBY – After his freshman year playing basketball, Sam Johnson thought basketball was going to be the sport of his future, so much so that he told his head football coach he was quitting.

Now, four years later, the three-year starter at punter for the Oak Mountain football team is heading to the University of Alabama to continue playing the sport he was close to giving up.

“After basketball his freshman year, he came off and said he was quitting football,” Bell said. “He came into my office and said ‘Coach, I’m going to quit and focus on basketball,’ or whatever odd thing he said. I said ‘OK,’ and then that Monday, he was at football practice. I’m glad he stuck it out.”

Deciding to give football another try ended up paying dividends for Johnson, who will now be the first Oak Mountain graduate to join the Alabama Crimson Tide’s football roster.

“I’m at a loss for words,” Johnson said. “It’s really just a blessing and you can’t ask for more.”

Realizing what he accomplished and how rare it is for an Oak Mountain football player was also special to Johnson.

“It’s a big deal,” he said. “Being the first to go major DI here in a while is really cool. We haven’t gotten a lot of recognition and we don’t see a lot of players playing college ball, but the ones that do work their butts off. That’s a credit to coach Bell.”

Now, after several years punting for the Eagles, Johnson will look to transfer his game to one of the best football programs in college football history.

With Ty Perine busting on the scene last year for the Crimson Tide at punter, Johnson will have to beat out some premiere talent, but it’s a challenge he’s ready to take on.

“There will be some tough competition, but I’m going to go out there and give it my all and work my butt off,” Johnson said. “I’m going to try to be the starter this year, be there four years, go to the NFL, have a long career and then sit down on a beach and just fish.”

While that was part confidence and part humor, his leg is strong enough to take him that far, and his head coach agrees.

“He is the most talented kicker I’ve ever coached,” Bell said. “I’ve coached some decent ones, but Sam I think is a great one. It’s not going to surprise me at all if in four or five years we don’t turn on the TV and he’s kicking on Sundays.”