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Two-sport star: Johnson making a name at Albany State

Antwan Johnson was once known by the nickname "Baby" when he attended Thomson High School and played three different sports.

Now attending college at Albany State University, the former football, baseball and basketball star is now making a name for himself in just two of those sports - football and baseball.

Now 22, Johnson played on the 2002 Class AAAA State Football Championship team at Thomson High School with such notable players as his first cousins, Casper and Jasper Brinkley and friends, DeMarco McNair, Willie Williams and Danny Verdun-Wheeler. Four of those players are now preparing for professional careers in the National Football League. The other one, Jasper Brinkley, will be returning to play out his senior season with the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.

"I want to play professional football someday, too," said Johnson during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror last Friday. "That's what I dream about."

About a year after graduating from Thomson High School, Johnson, son of Willie Brinkley of Thomson and Sharon Johnson of Atlanta, enrolled at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville. He went there for academics and to play college football.

As a running back, his first year went well. Unfortunately, a broken right leg in the second game of his second season there left Johnson feeling depressed and pondering his future.

He than remembered an important lesson: God can work miracles and see people through some of the darkest times of their lives.

"He's brought me a long ways," admitted Johnson. "I put Him first in everything I do now."

Ralph Starling, a local banker and longtime supporter of Thomson High School athletics, has nothing but praise for Johnson.

"As far as natural athletes go, Antwan is the best athlete since Ray Guy," said Starling. "He has a lot of God-given, natural athletic abilities."

Starling and some of his friends, Stuart Young, Scott Hawkins and Mike Stowe attended one of the football games that Johnson starred in this past season.

"Antwan has a lot of special talent and he's going to get even better," said Starling, who has no children and considers Johnson "like an adoptive child."

Since enrolling at Albany State University, Johnson has begun proving to those there that he has the skills and talent that it takes to become not only a star football player, but a star baseball player, too.

Take this past season in football, first.

As a running back, Johnson led the Rams in the touchdown department with 12. He helped Albany State University to an 8-3 overall record. The team's play was good enough to get them into the first-round of the SIAC playoffs, where the Rams ended up losing.

Johnson's longest touchdown of the season came on a 55-yard romp against Kentucky State.

As a student/athlete at Albany State, Johnson is studying criminal justice and plans to attend graduate school someday to also pursue a major in business administration. He recently concluded his first season in baseball, where he played with Roger Jones, Jr., a former standout baseball player at Thomson High School.

Johnson, who has a 3.5 GPA and had not played baseball in four years, earned the starting third base position for the Rams and became one of the team's shining star players.

Recently, he was named to the SIAC All-Conference Baseball Team and was named the team's Most Improved Player.

"I'm very proud of what I've accomplished so far in both football and baseball at Albany State, but I want to get better and better," said Johnson.

With hard work and determination, Johnson realizes that his dreams of someday playing in the NFL are now closer than he ever imagined.

"I know I'll make it there one day with God's help," said Johnson.

Web posted on Thursday, May 08, 2008

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