Continued from page 2

It’s what helped him in various stops as an assistant, including his work at Virginia Tech. He also was part of Ed DeChellis’ first staff at Penn State, with a priority placed on recruiting.

“That was his strength, no question,” said DeChellis, now Navy’s coach. “He was a good recruiter, got along with families well, really embraced players. JJ was a guy who I thought did a good job of talking to players and getting to know them. They really felt comfortable coming to him with problems and issues and he was really accessible to them. I think he’ll be the same way. I think he’ll be a players’ coach.”

Green said Johnson connected with players in several ways as an assistant. During practice, Johnson was an energetic presence. In the locker room, the music aficionado could be counted upon for some impromptu singing.

Neither Johnson nor Green anticipates a substantial shift in the coach’s relationship with his players. One guiding force in Johnson’s career certainly won’t change with his promotion.

“Those guys know that I’m going to tell them the truth and keep it real with them, and that’s how I’m going to continue to be as a head coach,” Johnson said. “If they need a little bit of a push, I’m going to give them a little bit of a push. If they do something great, I’m going to let them know, ‘Hey that’s great, that’s how we want it done.’ Whatever the opportunity is, I’m going to let them know how I feel about it and where we’re at.”