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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Antonio Johnson’s homecoming

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Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Sophomore defensive back Antonio Johnson recorded his first career interception surrounded by friends and family in the Saturday, Oct. 16 game against the Missouri Tigers. 

This past weekend, sophomore defensive back Antonio Johnson was just across state lines from his hometown of East St. Louis, Ill.
Johnson’s “homecoming” was not the typical one for a normal college student. For the first time in his collegiate football career, the Illinois native got to play near his home state on Saturday, Oct. 16 with Texas A&M football. The homecoming was worth it, with Johnson aiding A&M in its 35-14 victory over the University of Missouri with his first career interception.
Johnson said he will not forget his homecoming.
“It felt good coming home,” Johnson said. “A lot of friends [and] a lot of family [were here]. I had a lot of high school teammates on the opposing team. It was my first career pick, so it’s one I’ll never forget.”
Against Mizzou, the Aggies totaled 58 tackles and two sacks. Additionally, A&M was also responsible for two interceptions, one broken up pass and seven tackles for loss.
Johnson was responsible for one of those interceptions. However, it was not just any interception — it was the first of his career. The former four-star prospect from East St. Louis High School played intense defense in the secondary and snatched a pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback Connor Bazelak.
In front of his approximately 60 friends and family in attendance, Johnson returned the interception for six yards, taking it to the Mizzou 30-yard line. However, A&M was unable to score in the following drive as senior placekicker Seth Small missed the 54-yard field goal attempt.
A highlight of the night for the defensive back was playing against and guarding his former teammate, freshman wide receiver Dominic Lovett, Johnson said.
After the game, cameras captured Johnson and Lovett going over to their friends and family on the sidelines, and posing for pictures as East St. Louis High School alumni.
Johnson recorded five total tackles, all of which were solo. Despite being an underclassman, Johnson is still among A&M’s defensive leaders. Junior defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, a defensive starter, said Johnson has a bright future ahead of him.
“I’m extremely proud of [Johnson],” Leal said. “I’m proud of him every single day, every single game. As a young player he’s just very experienced and knows what he’s doing. He knows the game; he loves the game and I can’t wait for him to continue.”
The Illinois native has had a breakout season, resulting in the second-highest number of total tackles for the Aggies with 51.
To become the tackle leader, Johnson only needs to surpass senior linebacker Aaron Hansford, who leads with 52.
A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said A&M is lucky to have Johnson as a defensive back.
“Everybody wanted [Johnson],” Fisher said. “There were commitments here and commitments there and people getting him to commit. Those wars are relentless, and you’ve got to trust and believe, just like a game.”
Johnson said playing in his home state was an exceptional moment in his career.
“It was a special moment seeing all of my family and all my support system there,” Johnson said. “They don’t really get to come to a lot of games in Texas, so [playing at Mizzou] was important to me.”

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