No. 9 Demetric Johnson
• Running back/receiver/defensive back
• Schools recruiting: MTSU, UTC, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, South Alabama
• Why do you wear 2?
"I wore number 4 since pee-wee, but Coach [Vic] Grider gave me number 2 when I got to the varsity. I thought about changing back but decided I would just stick with 2."
With more than 2,500 career rushing yards, more than 1,000 receiving yards and having helped South Pittsburg reach the Class 1A state championship football game each of the last three seasons, Demetric Johnson has accomplished much already. But he has just one goal for his senior year.
"I just want to stay healthy for a change," Johnson said. "If I can do that, I'm really eager to see what I can do with a whole season."
Last fall was expected to be Johnson's breakout season. He was moved from receiver to running back to get the ball in his hands more often, but a series of injuries that included a separated shoulder and a high ankle sprain caused him to miss four games. He finally returned healthy for the playoffs and ran for more than 100 yards in all five postseason games, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry to finish with 1,400 yards for the season. He had six postseason touchdowns covering more than 20 yards.
After attending several college camps this summer, and being consistently timed in 4.47 seconds for the 40-yard dash, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Johnson's athletic ability is drawing recruiting interest from Middle Tennessee State, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, South Alabama and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is rated the area's No. 9 prospect in this year's Dynamite Dozen.
"He's a year bigger, stronger and faster, and we're planning on getting the ball to him a lot hopefully," Pirates coach Vic Grider said. "The scary thing is we haven't seen his best yet. If he lives up to his potential, he is as good as anybody we've ever had.
"We've had some pretty fast backs here the last few years, and I've always hesitated to compare who's the fastest, but Demetric would be at the top of that list. He's a game changer. I expect him to have at least two or three big plays every game when he's healthy."
The big-play capability carried the Pirates to a semifinal win at Gordonsville, where Johnson ran for 141 of his 176 yards in the deciding second half. With the game tied midway through the third quarter, he took a short pass, faked out two defenders and outran the Tigers secondary for a 59-yard touchdown that put the Pirates ahead.
He later added an 84-yard scoring run in which he was pushed toward the sideline before regaining his balance, then broke another tackle and outran every other defender giving chase.
"That Gordonsville game felt great because I was finally able to show what I'm capable of doing when I'm healthy," said Johnson, who is being recruited by MTSU as a receiver and by UTC as a defensive back. "That was the hardest I've ever played, because I refused to let my team down.
"I've got more visits to make and I don't really care which side of the ball I play on. I just want to go somewhere that I feel comfortable and can earn early playing time."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...