Johnson Named First Community Captain

The Carolina Panthers have selected T.J. Johnson, a senior offensive lineman at Aynor High School (Aynor, SC), as a 2007 Carolina Panthers Community Captain.

The Carolina Panthers Community Captain program recognizes high school student-athletes in North and South Carolina who excel on the football field, in the classroom, and in the community. The program is designed to recognize outstanding young leaders and to encourage their future development as role models while they continue their personal growth in college and in their professional careers.

Johnson [6-4, 275] is one of South Carolina's top offensive linemen and has recently given a verbal commitment to play football for Steve Spurrier and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. He also received scholarship offers from Maryland, NC State, Tennessee, and Wake Forest. Scout.com's southeast scout Miller Safrit calls Johnson an extremely hard-worker whose dedication and work ethic has paid off: "He picked up several out-of-state [scholarship] offers, which got the attention of [home state] South Carolina. Now he's going to be able to play for his dream school."

Johnson is very involved in other areas of his school as well. He posts an impressive 3.9 GPA and was named to the Junior Beta Club. He is also involved in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and SADD (Students against Destructive Decisions). A well-rounded athlete, he was an All-State baseball player as a sophomore and also has wrestled.

Johnson's high school coach Jody Jenerette calls T.J. the best player he has ever coached, both from a talent and attitude perspective. "He is a high character kid," says Jenerette. "He doesn't ever do anything wrong off the field."

While all of these qualifications are exceptional, it is Johnson's record of community service that justifiably earns him this award. "T.J. realizes that his situation [as a recognizable face in the community] allows him to help out and give back," says his father Tony. "He's the kind of son a father dreams of. I've been very blessed."

Among the projects he has participated in includes serving in a food line at a homeless shelter while participating in the 30 Hour Famine program, which helps raise awareness for children dying of hunger.

"Imagine not being able to eat for 30 straight hours," says Johnson's former youth pastor Donna Goodson. "He not only went through that difficulty, but he also fed others during that time, staring at food for hours and not being able to have any. That's commitment."

Johnson also visits Conway Nursing Home and takes gifts to patients. He enjoys sharing time with those who have few visitors. During the summer, he has volunteered at various youth sports camps and helps people in his church with anything they may need assistance with.

"Don't let his [intimidating] size fool you," says Goodson. "T.J. has a very big heart."

T.J. Johnson and the rest of the 2007 Carolina Panthers Community Captain class will be recognized at Bank of America Stadium during a special on-field ceremony prior to the Seattle Seahawks vs Carolina Panthers game on December 16th. Award recipients will receive an authentic Carolina Panthers Community Captain jersey and will have the opportunity to participate in select Panthers community outreach events with current Panthers players.

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