Former Big Red Corey Johnson thriving with Ironmen, who open at home on Sunday

By Dave Hart
LocalSportsJournal.com

MUSKEGON – In most families, Corey Johnson would be the undisputed star athlete.

After all, he was a standout football player on a state championship team at Muskegon High School,lsj-fb-logo and went on to become a highly productive wide receiver at Troy University.

But his older brother is Ronald Johnson, who was an All-Stater while playing with Corey at Muskegon, then went on to star at the University of Southern California and become a National Football League draft pick.

So Ronald got most of the headlines and public attention.

Corey Johnson reacts after catching the Ironmen TD in their preseason opener. Photo/Tim Reilly

Corey Johnson reacts after catching the Ironmen TD in their preseason opener. Photo/Tim Reilly

That continued this winter, when Corey quietly signed with the West Michigan Ironmen indoor football team, then Ronald caused a local media splash when he later signed with the team.

But so far Corey has made more of a splash on the field for the Ironmen.

He put on a show for the Muskegon crowd during the Ironmen’s lone exhibition contest, catching three touchdown passes for a total of 65 yards.

He continued his success during the regular season opener against the River City Raiders in St. Charles, Missouri last weekend, when he caught five passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Both Johnsons will be on the field Sunday when the Ironmen play their inaugural regular season home game against the Northern Kentucky Nightmare at 3:15 p.m. at L.C. Walker Arena.

The Ironmen are coming off a 75-68 loss to the Raiders last Sunday, while Northern Kentucky is 0-2 after losing to River City and Chicago.

Corey Johnson does not see any type of competition between himself and his older brother. The two are close, work out together, and are thrilled to be playing side-by-side for the first time since they formed a dynamic wide receiver duo in high school.

“It was really awesome to play with my brother, and to continue, too,” said Corey Johnson, who won a state football championship at Muskegon High School as a junior while his brother was a senior in 2007. “I am thankful, he pushes me and helps me turn up my level of play.

“He plays at a high caliber.”

When asked if he and Ronald needle each other over their performances, Corey said, “We are each other’s number one supporters, just like the rest of our family.”

The Ironmen are a comeback opportunity for both Johnsons, whose careers have been stalled for several years due to injuries.

Muskegon grad and Ironmen wide receiver, Corey Johnson, fights for extra yards. Photo/Tim Reilly

Muskegon grad and Ironmen wide receiver, Corey Johnson, fights for extra yards. Photo/Tim Reilly

For Corey, Sunday’s game will be only his second regular season contest since 2011, when he was a junior at Troy. He missed his senior season in 2012 after suffering a torn ACL injury.

Prior to his one season at Troy, Corey Johnson played two seasons at Garden City Community College in Kansas. He caught 58 passes for 665 yards and four touchdowns, all in his second year. He played on both sides of the ball during his freshman year and had  46 tackles, one sack and three interceptions.

Johnson transferred to Troy in 2011 and finished second on the team with 43 receptions for 440 yards. He also spent time on special teams as a kick returner.

“I was not able to redshirt my senior season at Troy,” Corey Johnson said. “I spent the last few years in Canada, where my fiancé lives, playing for fun and working out hard to one day make a comeback.

“My mom told me my day will come and one day my number would be called again.”

His number was finally called four years later by the Ironmen, and he could not be happier.

“Nothing works unless you believe,” Corey Johnson said. “My heart jumped to it, and so far it is looking better than I visualized.”

Want two free tickets to the Ironmen game for tomorrow's 3:15 p.m. kickoff? Stop by the Sprint store on E. Apple and ask for the LSJ's March magazine and get two free tickets (while quantities last).

Want two free tickets to the Ironmen game for tomorrow’s 3:15 p.m. kickoff? Stop by the Sprint store on E. Apple Ave. and ask for the LSJ’s March magazine and get two free tickets (while quantities last).

 

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