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Former NFL QB surprises players

What a football season it's been for coaches, players and fans at Briarwood Academy this season.

First, the school was visited by former University of Georgia head coach Vince Dooley during the Piedmont Academy game.

The legendary coach spent time talking with coaches, players and fans from both sides. He even participated in the flipping of the coin before the start of that game.

Dooley, who still lives in Athens and whose son Derek Dooley is in his first year as the new head coach at the University of Tennessee, also addressed Briarwood Academy football players during pre-game comments in their dressing room.

He was the first of two big names to visit the school during this football season.

Two weeks ago, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Doug Johnson visited the campus, as a surprise to one of the middle school football players, Jake Brooks, who was celebrating his 15th birthday.

Johnson and Brooks' father, Jeff, have been close friends since Jake was a little boy and lived in Flowery Branch, Ga. near the Falcons' training facility. Mr. Johnson, former starting quarterback for the Florida Gators before being drafted into the NFL, now lives in Gainesville, Fla., while the Brooks' family live in neighboring Warren County.

"Me and Doug have been friends for several years, ever since my two children were little," said Jeff Brooks, who arranged Johnson's surprise visit to Briarwood Academy. "We go hunting together all the time. We're still good friends."

The elder Brooks said he wanted to surprise his son on his birthday, since his son is so fond of Johnson.

"It was great to see Jake and to be around all of the other middle school football players that I met, too," said Johnson, who passed the football to several players. "I enjoy doing things like this. It's a good feeling and it's fun to be around young football players."

Johnson and a business partner operate an insurance company in Gainesville.

Asked if he misses playing in the NFL, Johnson replied, "No, not really."

He said his highlight was playing football for the Florida Gators.

"I loved playing college football," said Johnson, who played under former head coach Steve Spurrier, who today is head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

After his stint with the Atlanta Falcons, he ended up playing for the Cleveland Browns.

Web posted on Thursday, October 14, 2010

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