FORT LAUDERDALE — When trying to determine his career path, University of Miami safety Jaquan Johnson took a cue from someone once in his shoes.
And not a bad person to take a cue from at that.
“I’m not going to compare my years to Ed Reed, or how Ed Reed came back, but I thought about that,” Johnson said Wednesday in confirming he will return for his senior year. “That was a big part of it.”
Johnson was freshly minted as the Hurricanes’ MVP with a junior season in which he led the Hurricanes in tackles with 85 and had four interceptions, four pass break-ups and two forced fumbles.
Reed played four seasons at UM, returning for a senior season in which he had a career-high nine interceptions. And it paid off as he was selected 24th overall by the Baltimore Ravens in 2002 to begin a Hall of Fame career.
UM’s losses to Pittsburgh and Clemson may have a long-range benefit for UM, because Johnson said he’s “wanting to finish the season on a high note my senior year.”
Johnson said he had gotten an earful of advice along the way, including many who said he should go pro.
“I could sort of sense it in people’s voice, that they wanted me to just leave, but I make my own decisions,” he said. “My dad taught me that. My mom taught me that. They tell me to make my own decisions. I knew I would do four years as soon as I came here and I’m going to get my degree and play for a national championship.”
As you’d expect, UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is delighted with the decision.
“That’s great to hear as a coach,” Diaz said. “I think what coach (Mark) Richt is trying to do is you want to build a program where the players want to stay. I think Jaquan loves Miami. I think he loves our program and where it’s going and wants to be a part of it.”