Hometown hero: Buffalo native Jordan Johnson signs deal with the Bills
New Buffalo Bulls running back Jordan Johnson has lived and breathed Buffalo football his entire life.
Johnson recently signed a deal with the Bills just hours after this year’s draft. Johnson is a Buffalo native and has played football in Western New York at every level. He first made a name as a member of the Sweet Home Panthers high school football team where he was a two time Class-A state player of the year. He then moved around the corner to UB. Now he will be joining the pro team about 20 minutes away in Orchard Park.
“Buffalo is home, it always will be. I want to give back to my city as much as I possibly can.” Johnson said. “And this is just another step in the right direction to being on that path to do so. God blessed me with this opportunity so I just want to keep going by his name as much as I can.”
Johnson said he talked to the team a little bit during UB’s pro day. He started hearing from them during the draft and once the draft ended, he officially became a member of his hometown team.
Johnson joins Buffalo’s recent string of successful running backs including current NFL players James Starks and Branden Oliver. Johnson said he spoke to Oliver before and after the draft process. Oliver, along with former UB running back coach Matt Simon, both offered Johnson a bit of advice about the next level.
“They both told me it’s a different level of football, just keep going and working each and every day because at the end of the day your job is on the line every week,” Johnson said. “It’s not like college where you have a scholarship and no matter what you do you’re still there, you have to compete every day and every week for that spot on the team.”
Johnson is one of five running backs currently on the Bills roster. He said he knows it will take hard work to keep his spot on the team and even more work to find playing time.
“My whole focus is coming in and working as hard as I can each and every day to get on the field,” Johnson said. “Whether it’s on special teams or as a backup and just learning as much as I can from LeSean McCoy and just get better each and every day and try and contribute any way I can to try and make the team.”
He joins the Bills coming off his first season as the full time starter at UB. The team struggled and finished 2-10. The team experienced question marks at the offensive line as injuries caused the team to rotate through different starting lineups for the first part of the season. Johnson still managed to have a standout year that got him noticed by scouts.
He finished with 1040 rushing yards on 200 carries as well as seven total touchdowns. His year was highlighted by a program record 282 yard performance against the Akron Zips. He finished his career sixth in Buffalo history in rushing yards, eighth in touchdowns and fourth in average yards per rush.
His time in Buffalo with Simon was helpful to his development as a running back according to Johnson. Johnson came to Buffalo after being an all-State quarterback at Sweet Home. The Panthers were 33-2 during his time there and won three Section VI titles. Johnson said Simon helped him understand how to read the field better and understand how and when to make the right cuts. Johnson will now bring his base of knowledge as he begins working with new Bills running back coach, Kelly Skipper.
“I think it helped a lot, learning from a guy who has been there and coached all-pros,” Johnson said. “[Simon] coached a hall-of-fame running back, I’m able to take that knowledge he taught me and bring it to the next level… but at the same time, I’ve got a good running back coach at the Bills right now and I get to learn from him on top of who I’ve learned from already so it all just comes together”
Johnson will get his first experience with the team when the rookie minicamp begins May 12.
Daniel Petruccelli is the asst. sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com