When rookie kicker Brian Johnson signed with the Washington Football Team on Tuesday, it marked the third NFL franchise he’s agreed to terms with in his first professional season. Johnson appeared in four games for the New Orleans Saints and spent some time on the Chicago Bears’ practice squad, but he’s back in the DMV after Washington lost Joey Slye to a hamstring injury Monday.
Johnson, a native of Bethesda, Maryland, attended Gonzaga College High School in D.C. before spending four years kicking for Virginia Tech. After going undrafted last summer, Johnson signed with the Saints in October and made his NFL debut in Week 7. Now, he’s back home with another kicking gig in hand.
“I’m just from over the river in Bethesda, Maryland,” Johnson said in his introductory press conference Thursday. “Went to Gonzaga, grown up here my whole life so it feels really good to be back. I have a lot of friends and families in the area.”
Although Bethesda is closer to FedEx Field than M&T Bank Stadium, Johnson admitted that his football fandom tilted toward the Ravens over Washington when he was younger.
“I actually grew up a Ravens fan,” Johnson said. “But some of my family, they’re Washington fans so I’ve always had a place in my heart for them too and it feels good to represent them.”
It’s hard to blame the 22-year-old, who’s seen the Ravens win two Super Bowls in his lifetime while Washington hasn’t made it past the divisional round. However, it was Washington that showed interest in him coming out of college, spurring conversations that ultimately led to his signing.
“Before the draft as well as after preseason and stuff, they wanted to bring me in and see what I can do,” Johnson said. “I think that having those conversations in the past helped me get here today as well.”
Johnson will be the fourth kicker to appear in a game for Washington this season, following Slye, Chris Blewitt and Dustin Hopkins. Both Johnson and Slye are former Hokies, and all four kickers are products of the ACC.