Athlete of Week: Johnson makes big move for Saints

Jaylen Johnson is accustomed to turning heads on the basketball court. That’s why it’s even more special for him to be named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week in football, a sport he hadn’t planned to play when he transferred back to Christian Academy from Carolina Forest for his senior year.

“I wasn’t going to play football this year. I was going to focus on school and basketball,” said Johnson, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for his recent play on the gridiron. “But I heard they didn’t have enough players, and a lot of my friends on the team really wanted to play. I decided I would do it for them and dedicate this season to my Pops that passed away. I just try to do my best to make him proud.”

Johnson has been through a lot over the past four years – the loss of his father, his mother’s battles with cancer, and transferring schools twice in as many years – all while juggling the responsibilities of being a big brother, staying on top of school work and, of course, excelling at sports. He credits his family, friends, coaches, teammates and teachers for helping him handle it.

“Jaylen is a great kid who has amazing abilities,” said CAMB coach Matt Adams. “He has a talent to make special things happen in the game on and off the field. He has been a huge addition to our program this year and has been a blessing to have on the team.”

The wide receiver and outside linebacker has become a major contributor to the Saints’ breakthrough season following one year at Carolina Forest. Christian Academy already has four wins this season – double the previous record. The upstart program has had some amazing wins, including a wild 57-56 victory over Florence Christian that saw Johnson find the end zone four times.

“That game was great because our fans are normally kind of quiet, but they were getting hyped and so were we,” said Johnson, who said he prefers the small school setting at CAMB. “That game was sort of a turning point for our team. We saw we could win if we all work hard and work together. I’m so glad I played.”

But the decision has added even more to Johnson’s already overflowing plate. After a full day of school, Johnson goes to football practice, followed by basketball practice, followed by a late night of family and study time.

“When my Pops died I knew I had to step it up, take on my roles and do whatever it takes to get it done,” Johnson said. “My mom encourages me every day and my friends and coaches and teachers and teammates are behind me all the way.”

Johnson hopes to help the Saints reach their first playoff berth this season with a big game Friday against Pee Dee Academy, and he will make a quick move to the hardwood for his senior season under new CAMB coach and longtime AAU coach Colin Stevens. Johnson hopes all the hard work pays off with a basketball state championship and a college scholarship to play hoops at the next level.

Photo courtesy of CAMB Athletics

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