ATLANTA, GA (WLBT) - Noah Johnson didn’t know much about Alcorn State when graduating high school in Tampa, Florida. But he knew of his coach’s name.
“Knew about the name ‘McNair’. I knew that name holds weight,” Johnson said Friday on the eve of the Braves' Celebration Bowl matchup with North Carolina A&T. “To be able to be coached by Coach Mac (Alcorn State head coach Fred McNair) and to be able to grow under him and just take everything in… All that information each and every day has really helped me out.”
Johnson’s recruitment in many ways mirrors that of his coach’s late brother, Steve. Passed over by many, Johnson chose Alcorn as the only school giving him a shot to play quarterback.
“I just want to finish the mission with this team cause a lot of these schools counted me out,” said Johnson. “You don’t know how difficult the recruiting process was. I didn’t think I was going to go to college, to be honest, just because of my height. But they didn’t measure my heart, though.”
Johnson has rewarded the chance given to him by Alcorn. The junior quarterback this season was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.
“Alcorn has a great tradition of excellent quarterbacks,” McNair said Friday. “It’s a high standard. And Noah, he understands that and he does well of accepting it. And now we’re here at the Celebration Bowl again.”
Where Johnson is, once again, an underdog against North Carolina A&T.
“Everybody’s counting us out,” said Johnson. “And I hate to say it, but that’s just the way it is. Nobody gives us a chance. And we’re here now, and we’re going to put on a show.”