Barry Odom after Thursday’s practice
The first time somebody told Johnathon Johnson that he was within striking distance of Missouri’s all-time receiving record, he thought they had the wrong guy.
Johnson, a redshirt senior, was on his phone in January when a fan told him in a tweet that he needed 883 yards to pass Danario Alexander for the program’s all-time record. For a second, he wondered if there was another Johnathon Johnson on the team.
“I clicked on it to make sure he was talking about me,” Johnson said Thursday.
Johnson wasn’t the only one surprised to learn of his careers numbers. When Missouri coach Barry Odom first saw the graphic that has Johnson currently No. 10 in all-time receiving yards with 1,896, he thought he misread it.
“I read it two or three times,” Odom said. “He’s been really a productive player. You look at Jeremy Maclin, Danario Alexander, go back to Vic Bailey. It’s a testament to JJ. The yards he’s gotten after catch is impressive.”
Johnson’s not knocking himself when he says was skeptical of the number back in January. He just had a hard time processing it. The 5-foot-9 slot receiver has never been Missouri’s top wideout and his 737 receiving yards in 2018 were a career high. For Johnson to eclipse Alexander’s record, he’ll need to have a career year.
Wideouts coach Garrick McGee said he hasn’t talked to Johnson about the record much since fall camp has started, but he admitted the two talked extensively about it in the offseason. McGee said Johnson is one of the country’s top wideouts because of his competitiveness and speed.
Johnson played alongside former MU receiver J’Mon Moore, who is now with the Green Bay Packers, for most of his career and was stunned to discover that Moore ended his career with 2,477 receiving yards, roughly 300 short of Alexander’s record. The Memphis native said he understands his role with the team and looks at his situation as a chance to capitalize on opportunities.
“I was never the main target when playing here,” he said. “It just goes to show whenever I got the ball I was productive with it. For me to be in position and break the record, I feel like I’m in a special position.”
Ultimately, Johnson said he doesn’t care whether or not he breaks the record. He admits it would be nice but understands he’s part of a loaded Missouri receiving corps that also features graduate transfer Jonathan Nance, sophomores Jalen Knox and Kam Scott, and freshman Maurice Massey.
Missouri is currently banned from competing in a bowl because of academic scandal, and Johnson said he’d happily trade the record for a postseason game any time.
“If we go 12-0 I’d be perfectly fine with it,” he said.