If Stephen Johnson wasn’t so calm, cool and collected, one might assume he just loves the drama.
Time and again this season, the senior quarterback seemed too hurt to possibly return to the game. And time and again in his two-year career, the Kentucky quarterback came back and made the big plays his team needed.
“He’s a stud,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said of his quarterback, who suffered a shoulder joint injury and left for the locker room late in the first half with a member of the UK support staff holding Johnson’s right, throwing arm to stabilize it.
Johnson looked finished.
“I mean, he’s as tough as I’ve ever coached in my 31, 32 years,” Gran continued. “He just is one of the most resilient kids I’ve ever been around. I love that kid. Love him.”
When he came back in the second half, Johnson ran in two touchdowns and nearly led UK back from a double-digit deficit twice.
“He’s a quarterback god to me,” running back Benny Snell said of the senior leader who threw for 257 yards and ran in two touchdowns.
“I’ve seen that man take too many hits that you don’t come back from and he’s overcome so much adversity. That’s one of the greatest quarterbacks that I’ve ever been beside of. He has a lot of heart.”
Johnson is synonymous with toughness, Coach Mark Stoops said of the junior college transfer, who finished ninth in school history with 4,342 passing yards despite haveing just a two-year career.
“He’ll always be remembered for his toughness and his guts and his determination,” Stoops said. “Once again, he leads us and puts us in position to win this football game. I think that’s what everybody should remember him by.”