ROCHELLE — Brandon Johnson combined his offensive and defensive talents to become a two-way player for the Hubs varsity football team this past season. But it was the junior’s efforts on special teams that earned him All-Conference First Team recognition by the Northern Illinois Big 12 West.
Johnson started at inside linebacker for the Hubs, totaling 45 tackles including two tackles-for-loss. He also split time at tailback with junior Eddie Villalobos, recording 452 yards and nine touchdowns to help lead the Rochelle offense.
However, Johnson found himself listed as the NIB-12 West All-Conference First Team punter after averaging 32.3 yards per punt with a season-best boot of 43 yards. Johnson was Rochelle’s only player to earn First-Team honors on special teams this year.
“It was nice to put in all the hard work and be recognized for it at the end of the year,” Johnson said. “I thought I punted the ball well and I’d like to improve there. Defensively, I think I can make more plays at linebacker and get better there.”
The 2017 season was Johnson’s second as Rochelle’s punter after winning the starting job as a sophomore. He averaged 35.5 yards with a season-long of 40 yards in 2016 including one punt inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Johnson has spent three years with the varsity team, and he will likely play an even larger role with the Hubs next year.
“We have a lot of new kids coming up who will fill spots and put in a lot of hard work,” Johnson said. “It should be a good year.”