Gators’ Johnson making most of his opportunities

Goose Creek's Tyrik Johnson finds running room against Summerville during their game Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Summerville. Paul Zoeller/Staff

Chuck Reedy said he might be the dumbest football coach in the entire state of South Carolina.

How else could the Goose Creek head coach explain the lack of playing time for running back Tyrik Johnson?

In seven games, Johnson has carried the ball just 29 times. But the 5-9, 170-pound junior has made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 585 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is averaging more than 20 yards a carry.

“A smart coach would figure out a way to get Tyrik a few more carries, wouldn’t he?” Reedy said with a chuckle. “Most coaches would find a way to get him more than four or five touches a game, but right now that’s all we’ve been able to do.”

Johnson is the backup tailback behind senior Caleb Kinlaw, who also has some impressive stats. Kinlaw, who has verbally committed to Georgia Tech, has rushed for 869 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. He is averaging 8.4 yards per carry.

“It’s a little frustrating, but I understand that Caleb is a senior and he’s going to get the most carries,” Johnson said. “That’s OK with me. I’ve got to wait like everyone else. Next year I know that I’ll be the one getting the ball.”

Johnson would be the featured running back on just about any other team in the area, Reedy said. But with Kinlaw firmly entrenched as the Gators’ starter, Johnson has been satisfied with his secondary role.

“Last year, Caleb understood that Tramel (Terry) was going to get the ball and this year it’s his turn,” Reedy said. “Tyrik understands that and he’s got a great attitude about it. He’s not a ‘me’ guy, he’s a team player. He comes to practice every day with a big smile on his face. His time is going to come.’”

Every time Johnson enters the game, his teammates get off the bench to watch. They know a big play is coming.

“It’s amazing because they kind of gather around to watch,” Reedy said. “I can hear the buzz behind me when I put Tyrik in the game.”

Rarely does Johnson disappoint.

“It’s not like he’s doing it against bad teams or against their second-string players,” Reedy said. “He’s in there when it matters.”

Johnson isn’t a large, overpowering running back, and he doesn’t have blazing speed. So what is it about Johnson that makes him special?

“He has football speed,” Reedy said. “I’ve never seen him get caught from behind. He also has great vision and he sets up his blocks very well. He carries his pads very well. When he does get hit, he has a knack for breaking a tackle and keeping his feet moving.”

Last season, Johnson suffered a severely pulled groin in the second game on a 77-yard touchdown run against Colleton County. He missed the rest of the season.

“I don’t think anyone knew he was going to be this good,” Reedy said. “But I guess you look back at the Colleton County game and you think he was doing the same thing last year.”