Dorian Johnson: First and foremost I would like to say that without God the blessing of life would not be possible; so for that I am forever grateful. Aside from the blessings, life is filled with highs and lows, both of which may be distractions and obstacles that can prevent you from being great. Reflecting on the past 22 years of my life I would have to say life mirrors the pursuit of happiness. During this pursuit one may be faced with challenges that builds character and becomes a part of ones legacy. I want to be remembered by people I’ve never had the chance to meet first hand.
Joe Gaiter: Where are you from and how was your childhood?
Dorian Johnson: My childhood was great. With two loving parents and a little sister, I was always looked upon as the man of the house when my dad wasn’t home. Growing up in Baltimore, MD I have had the opportunity to be exposed to a plethora of diverse people. Being a second generation Jamaican, much of my heritage lies in the island of Jamaica. As a child I had friends in my neighborhood of all races and ethnicity, which made me diverse athletically, academically, and socially. Not only did I become a standout athletically, I was also able to communicate and lead at a very young age. I can remember starting up an organized neighborhood football tourney before I was old enough to play tackle football! Although I was one of the youngest, I was always respected because of my ability to lead.
Joe Gaiter: When did you start getting into sports?
Dorian Johnson: My first organized athletic experience was playing with a t-ball team at the age of 5, just outside of Baltimore County. Although I didn’t continue t-ball, I was fortunate to be exposed to sports such as swimming, karate, basketball, gymnastics, football and track and field. The two sports I had the most passion for was football and track and field. As a natural competitor, I felt like these were the best sports to showcase my athletic ability, awareness and toughness. I played Recreation League Football through Elementary school and middle school as a Running back and played HS Football for 3 years as a cornerback/receiver and was part of Special teams. In High School, I focused on track and field solely based on the needs of the school program, in which I was able to break school/conference records and win the conference championships each year. When I was recruited for track for college, I chose South Carolina and had to still focus on track because that is what the program needed. With the focus on track, I really had a void inside when it came to football though. I have always wanted to play and felt because I was “away” from the game so long, my dream was over. I still knew I was great, even being away from the game. I always wanted to be the best especially if someone believed otherwise.
Joe Gaiter: At Mount Saint Joseph High School you were a three-time conference champion in the long jump and triple jump. What made you chose Track and Field over other sports?
Dorian Johnson: I wouldn’t say that I chose track and field over other sports. I think that my interest in track and field was influenced by the amount of success I had in the sport. I actually have a greater passion for the game of football all of my life, but my early successes in track and field pushed my train in the off seasons to pursue athletic scholarship in track and field. I also initially believed that the preparation for track and football did not coincide as far as training. But the older I grew the more aware I became that this was not true. I’ve always been a natural and instinctual on the football field.
Joe Gaiter: You placed first in the triple jump at the New Balance Collegiate Open and scored for the Gamecocks at SEC Championships in the triple jump, placing 7th and recording a top season mark with a jump of 50-06.00 (15.39m). Are you happy with last year’s performance?
Dorian Johnson: Personally I will never be happy with a season’s performance unless I am an All-American, which is top 24 in the country. I would use the word satisfied to describe the way I feel about last season because of the goals I’ve accomplished and the contribution I was able to make to my overall teams performance. Although 50’6’’ is my all time best performance I know that I am capable of much more so I try not to get content with personal bests.
Joe Gaiter: What is the art behind the long jump?
Dorian Johnson: To most people the long jump may seem like simply sprinting down the runway and jumping as far as possible but the event is much more complex. Actually I know a few people who might be able to write a book on the event itself. It’s a combination of initial force application to the ground, core strength, running mechanics and rhythm. In fact about 25% of an actual long jump is in the jump. The majority of a quality jump is in the run and the accuracy of approaching the board with the same intensity and rhythm every time.
Joe Gaiter: What is your ultimate goal with your sport?
Dorian Johnson: At this point in time my ultimate goal in my current sport (track) is to be the very best that I can be as an athlete, and as current team captain and role model for incoming freshman at the University of South Carolina. With only one semester left of college eligibility I feel like my goals of being an All-American and All-SEC triple jumper will fall into place if I remain determined. As for football, I plan on revisiting a sport that I always loved more than life itself. I am in excellent shape right now so after getting my body re-acclimated to the short intense movements in different directions, I am positive I will be able to showcase my abilities and have a successful professional career as a cornerback for one of the teams in the NFL.
Joe Gaiter: How are you preparing for upcoming events?
Dorian Johnson: Currently I am working out every day after track practice and weightlifting with Coach D to prepare me for the NFL Regional Scouting Combine. Testing such as the 40 yard dash, vertical test and broad jump will most likely be my strong points since we do things like this during the track season. My track background will help me when it comes to being explosive in and out of cuts and coming off the line when running the 40-yard dash. For evaluations such as the bench press and defensive back drills I am tirelessly improving my strength and footwork to be as natural and strong as possible.
Joe Gaiter: How has your family supported your dreams?
Dorian Johnson: Since day one my family has stood behind me and supported everything I’ve wanted to do athletically and academically. I am person that tries to be well rounded in many aspects of life. Being a college student-athlete, I have not been financially independent or stable, which make it difficult to embark on different desires such as walking on to the football team or even studying abroad. Ever since a kid my family has made it clear that what ever my dreams are, they would be behind me to support me in whatever it is I wanted to do. In return I promised them that what ever I choose to do with my life I will give it my all and have no regrets from my decisions.
Joe Gaiter: Final words?
Dorian Johnson: Once again I would like to give praise and thanks to God for allowing me to have the opportunity to awaken my dreams. I also want to thank my family for the constant support that they have provided throughout my life because with out them this would not me possible. I also would like to thank my trainer Coach D for preparing me for the NFL Regional Scouting Combine so I can show NFL scouts I am worthy of this opportunity.