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Gov. Mifflin grad Jan Johnson accepts job on Virginia Tech football staff

Before his final season at Penn State three years ago, Jan Johnson gave a prophetic answer during an interview with reporters.

“I can see myself coaching at some level,” he said.

That will happen this week when the former Gov. Mifflin standout begins his first job as a defensive analyst at Virginia Tech. He will work for Hokies head coach Brent Pry, his linebacker coach at Penn State.

“Coach Pry had known that I had wanted to get involved in coaching,” Johnson said Wednesday. “He had asked me during spring practice if I was interested in coming down there. I was still trying to make the USFL (as a player) or get put on a team.

“Things weren’t happening, so I reached out to him and asked if he had anything open for me. He helped me out.”

Johnson will join a staff that has several men with Penn State connections, including offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen, who coached tight ends with the Nittany Lions, and football chief of staff Michael Hazel, who was Penn State’s senior director of football operations.

Pry and Lions head coach James Franklin said during his playing career that Johnson has the characteristics to become a great coach.

“I want to see if I want to do this long term, which I think it is,” he said. “This would just kind of confirm that.”

Johnson said accepting the Virginia Tech job “has closed the door on my playing career.”

He was released last August by the Tennessee Titans after he signed a futures contract with them in January 2021.

Johnson played in all three preseason games for Tennessee last year, making two solo tackles against Chicago, one solo stop against Tampa Bay and two assisted tackles and a half sack against Atlanta.

Coming out of Penn State, he signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in April 2020 before they released him during training camp. He later had tryouts with New Orleans and Tampa Bay that didn’t produce a contract.

“It’s not like it’s a terrible thing,” Johnson said about ending his playing career. “I accomplished everything I wanted to do. When I was a little kid all I wanted to do was to play at Penn State. The fact that I was able to do that fulfilled all my dreams.

“When I was young I never thought about playing in the NFL. I just wanted to go to Penn State. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more.”

Johnson went to Penn State as a preferred walk-on and eventually became a two-year starter and a team captain, and earned a scholarship. He made 64 tackles as a senior in 2019, including 4.5 for losses, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, one interception, one sack and two pass break-ups.

He has remained close and loyal to Pry, who had recruited him to play for the Lions.

“Just from the start, he gave me an opportunity at Penn State,” Johnson said. “I was just a walk-on. For him to believe in me and trust in me to play for him was just unbelievable. He helped my football career tremendously.

“I don’t know if I can put into words how grateful I am to him and for what he has done for me.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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