After spending most of his freshman year playing on the second team in practice, University of Toledo sophomore wide receiver Jon'Vea Johnson was able to develop a rapport with current starting quarterback Logan Woodside.
“We had a lot of reps last year when he redshirted,” Johnson said of his chemistry with Woodside. “He was running with the twos and I was running with the twos, so we had a bond from there.”
So far the bond is paying off in a big way for Toledo as Johnson is coming off a career game in which he caught nine passes from Woodside for 182 yards and three touchdowns in a hostile environment at BYU.
On one of the touchdowns against BYU, Woodside and Johnson improvised while Woodside was rolling to the left. Johnson broke off his route and cut to the corner of the end zone where Woodside found him with a perfect throw.
“It was schemed up differently,” Johnson said of the play. “But me and Logan do a good job of improvising on the run.”
In the BYU game, Johnson showed off his combination of size and speed with TD catches of 79, 12, and 15 yards.
It was the best performance of Johnson’s young career and part of a great start to his sophomore season. In four games, Johnson has 13 catches for 317 yards and five touchdowns, which is tied for the team lead in TDs with tight end Michael Roberts.
“Last year I felt like I was just getting my feet wet, but this year I’m still getting them wet honestly, but I feel like I’m ready to take any obstacles that are coming towards me,” Johnson said.
As a young player, Johnson has taken his cues from upperclassmen receivers Corey Jones and Cody Thompson and developed a solid work ethic.
“The way they play hard and the passion they show for the game is crazy,” Johnson said. “The way they go out there and compete every day on a daily basis is really inspiring and it makes me want to just up my game every time I get out there.”
Out of West Side High School in Gary, Ind., Johnson held several Mid American-Conference offers and an offer from Cincinnati, but ultimately couldn’t pass up UT.
He was an all-state selection his senior year of high school, then redshirted his first year at UT in 2014.
“I had a lot of MAC offers, and my first offer was from Cincinnati, but that didn’t end up working out,” Johnson said. “So I remember sitting with my dad and him telling me that I should go to a school that has a traditionally winning program and Toledo was the one.”
Johnson has grown up quickly in his time at UT, and is continuing to blossom as the Rockets offense is lighting up the scoreboard.
His mix of versatility and speed has turned him into another big-play threat on a Toledo offense with many weapons. His 24.4 yards per catch are second on the team to Thompson (32.6).
“Jon'Vea is coming into his own,” UT coach Jason Candle said.
“He’s maturing weekly right in front of our eyes. He’s always had tremendous talent and great speed, but I really appreciate how he’s practiced and his attention to detail in getting better and working on his craft. It’s really paying off for him.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6110.
Toledo’s Jon'Vea Johnson hauls in the Rockets’ 45-3 victory over the University of Maine on Sept. 10. BLADE/ANDY MORRISON