Penn Hills grad Trou’ Johnson making plays for Thiel

Thursday, October 17, 2019 | 5:16 PM

Ever since he stepped onto Thiel’s campus, Trou’ Johnson wanted to be an impact player for the Tomcats football team. Johnson, a junior, is doing just that.

In the last two weeks, Johnson has an interception and two forced fumbles. Johnson, who led the Tomcats with 51 tackles through their first six games, believes switching from cornerback to safety has allowed him to be more productive.

“I wanted to create more turnovers. The fact I’m doing that is pretty big,” he said. “I’m able to make more plays, see the field more and being around the ball more.”

The Penn Hills alum forced, recovered and returned a fumble 86 yards for a touchdown with a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the game to give Thiel (0-6, 0-5) a chance to tie Waynesburg on Oct. 5. But the extra-point attempt was blocked, and Thiel lost 14-13 in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference game.

“It’s always tough losing, especially when we work so hard during the game to come back,” Johnson said. “For it to still not go our way, it was definitely tough. We try to move on from every loss. We put that behind us so we can focus on this week.”

Johnson (5-foot-10, 180-pounds) forced a fumble and returned an interception 17-yards for a touchdown in a 41-18 loss to St. Vincent on Oct. 12.

“It’s really been just hard work and film study,” Johnson said. “I’m a junior now, and the game is slowing down. I guess becoming a veteran has helped me out a lot. I’ve realized how important film study is and player’s tendencies are.”

Last season, Johnson got a taste of what life would be like at the safety position when he started there in the final two games. During the offseason, Johnson decided he would like to make the permanent change to safety.

“It’s different because I can see the whole field better,” he said. “I can get more involved in the game. Being a corner, you have to be on an island. Being a safety, I can be everywhere on the field.

“When opportunity is knocking, you got to answer. It’s next man up, and you got to keep it pushing no matter what happens.”

Johnson, a team captain for the second year, received PAC honorable mention recognition during his freshman and sophomore seasons. He was named the team’s defensive newcomer of the year as a freshman after starting eight games and recording an interception.

In his sophomore year, Johnson started all 10 games, recovered a fumble, led the team in pass breakups and returned a kick for a touchdown.

“I don’t really pay attention to those things,” he said. “I focus on being a better leader and a better captain.”

As his junior season comes to a close, Johnson has started to reflect on his football career and how he has matured as a player.

“I’m starting to value the game more,” Johnson said. “I’m coming up to my senior year, so I have one more full season plus these last few weeks. I’m starting to realize my football career might be coming to an end. I’m appreciating the little things of football like the brotherhood.”


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