After an all-district career at second base and shortstop at Austin Anderson High School, Johnson's baseball career appeared to be over.
He was prepped to become a controlling engineer, along the lines of his uncle, and earn a degree at Texas Tech, the beloved alma mater of his mother, Karisa Johnson.
It was a surprise phone call from North Lake College, a Division III program in Dallas, that offered Johnson a chance at continuing his love for baseball.
"It was just more time to play baseball, the game we all love," Johnson said. "I played a couple years for a great coach."
Johnson found his way to North Lake, where he hit .360 with 62 hits and 16 doubles as a sophomore in 2015. With UTA recruiting North Lake pitching talent Dan Hawk, assistant coach Jon Wente was able to see Johnson perform regularly.
Wente became a fan of the way Johnson played the game and the Mavs offered Johnson a role with the club. A 5-foot-10, 170-pound infielder, Johnson was excited to try his hand at Division I baseball.
"I didn't really care about my size. I just went out there and played hard and went as hard as I could," Johnson said. "My high school coach, and (hitting coach) Fuller (Smith), always call me a sparkplug. That is just who I try to be on the field. I just love trying to get the best out of myself and everyone. If that happens your team chemistry is going to be great and you are going to be able to do things you didn't think you could do. I just want to bring as much energy out there as I can. Baseball is supposed to be fun."
While redshirting the 2016 season, Johnson proved his worth with an unyielding desire to play the game. With the Mavs down to one healthy catcher for the 2016 season – All-Conference selection Brady Cox – Johnson volunteered to gear up and fill a critical practice and bullpen role.
That willingness to do anything needed for the team is an endearing quality of Johnson's, one that has earned him praise for his competitiveness and leadership from UTA Coach Darin Thomas.
As a redshirt junior in 2017, Johnson emerged as a major weapon for the UTA lineup. After not playing in the season opener, he earned the start in the second game of the year at Stephen F. Austin. Johnson went 3-for-4 with two steals, setting the stage for him to play in all but two games the remainder of the year.
A versatile defender, Johnson can play anywhere on the diamond. He made 41 starts at second and four at third base as a junior. At the dish, Johnson's top-of-the-order skill set saw him hit .276 (45-for-163) with five doubles, 19 RBI and a .364 on-base percentage.
"Last year, I would probably say that what I learned is that baseball, no matter what at any level, anything can happen," Johnson said. "I learned that if you go out there and do things right, play hard, then some things will fall your way. The flow of Division I is a lot quicker, communication is a lot more meaningful. I've just learned how to play the game better."
Now as a senior in 2018, Johnson's role has expanded to include leadership on and off the field. An infectious personality, Johnson willingness to put the team first is an easily admirable quality.
"I feel like I found my game," Johnson said. "I'm not going to be a guy to go out and hit 20 bombs, or be a guy like Noah (Vaughan) or Omar (Salinas) and can just pound the baseball. I need to be a guy that can do whatever is needed. If you need me to bunt, I'll bunt, if you need me to move a runner, bloop one in, whatever it takes."
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