Jul 22, 2019
Wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (3) runs with the ball against Nevada on Sept. 30, 2017 at Bulldog Stadium. Fresno State won 41-21. (Daniel Avalos/The Collegian)

Top Dog of the Week: Keesean Johnson

Wide receiver KeeSean Johnson’s successful efforts in the offseason to add 14 pounds to his frame may go unnoticed, but what can’t be ignored is Johnson’s efforts on the field. His stellar play has earned him this week’s Top Dog honor.

The junior’s chemistry with newly appointed starting quarterback Marcus McMaryion was on full display Saturday against the University of Nevada. Johnson finished with 104 yards receiving and three touchdowns.

“As a player, you just have to execute in whatever position [the coaches] put you in,” Johnson said. “That’s all I try to do.”

That dedication to execution began in the offseason when he challenged himself to add weight to his frame in order to make himself a much more physically intimidating presence. Johnson said the coaches were adamant with him about adding the right kind of weight.

“Eating right, working out a lot and just working hard” were the main contributors to his healthy weight gain, he said.

Many of those workouts were done alongside his brother, former San Jose State safety Vince Miles.

“It’s a brother thing. I’m an offensive player. He’s a defensive player. Just going at it against him every day, so many reps with him,” Johnson said. “He’s always going to help me in the long run.”

Johnson added that his brother has always served as an excellent role model and mentor. Next to himself, his brother is his biggest critic, he said. He even called Miles a “father figure.”

“Me and my brother are real close,” he said. “He always showed me a lot, and he always led me in the right way.”

Johnson said he and his brother are always challenging each other to be better, in football and in life.

His support system extends past his brother to the rest of his family, specifically his mother Monique Burns and his father Sean Johnson.

“Family is a big part of my life. My mom, she deserves a lot so I try to do whatever I can to make her proud, and my dad just as much,” Johnson said. “I work for them every day. I work for myself, but at the end of the day, it just comes down to working for your family.”

He added that what makes his parents’ contributions so effective is the polarity of their personalities. His father serves as another helpful critic, constantly looking for ways in which Johnson could improve.

“He’s always on me, no matter how good I do,” the wideout said of his father. “I scored three touchdowns in the first half last weekend, and after the game he told me ‘But you didn’t score any more in the second half, so where does it balance out?’”

Johnson said his mother is the one who provides the love. She does not know a lot about the sport her sons have been playing all their lives, but she knows how important it is to support them.

“She’s always going to be there, always going to be in the stands cheering me on,” he said.

The junior’s role amongst his football family is much different. There he must serve as a leader and mentor for others, especially his fellow wide receivers.

“I feel like the way I prepare during practice can translate to the rest of our position group,” Johnson said. “You practice a lot, so sometimes coming out with energy is hard, so sometimes you just got to fake it till’ you make it so the other people can feed off your juice.”

There’s a familiar opponent in the Bulldog’s foreground, the San Jose Spartans, conference opponent and Johnson’s brother’s former team.

“It’s the Valley Game, that’s what we’re gonna play for, and we’re gonna prepare like we want to be the Valley champs,” the junior said.

Johnson said he is excited to face Spartan defensive backs Andre Chachere and Maurice McKnight on Saturday in San Jose.

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