WSJ alums Jackson, Johnson honored

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2013



LAPLACE – Tyson Jackson and Quinn Johnson have found success at the NFL level. College, too.

But in Edgard they’ll always be remembered, first and foremost,  as Rams.

That fact was cemented Friday night at Belle Terre Country Club, as the school honored the former West St. John prep football superstars by retiring their jerseys, doing so at a special evening ceremony after the conclusion of the annual Rudolph G. Dinvaut Golf Tournament.

Jackson’s No. 67 and Johnson’s No. 64 prep jerseys were unveiled at the event, each framed along with a pro game photo and a headshot of each player.

The duo helped lead West St. John to the 2003 Class 2A state football championship, Jackson a defensive end and Johnson a linebacker/fullback. 

Johnson moved on to play at LSU in 2004; Jackson helped lift the Rams to a second consecutive state championship in 2004, then joined Johnson with the Tigers.  The duo lifted the Tigers to the 2008 BCS National Championship. Jackson went on to become the highest defensive selection in the history of Louisiana when he was taken third overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2009 NFL Draft. Johnson, meanwhile, was selected in the fifth round of that year’s draft by the Green Bay Packers; that year, he went on to capture a Super Bowl ring with the Packers, becoming one of the very rare athletes who can claim to winning a championship at the prep, college and NFL levels.

“This means a great deal to me. It’s a blessing,” said Johnson of the night’s honor. “I almost feel it’s too much for me. I was blessed to have coaches and guys around me to put me in position to succeed.”

Jackson echoed his friend and longtime teammate.

“When you look back at all the great players that came through West St. John, you understand what a big, big honor it is,” said Jackson. 

The 2003 Rams went all but unchallenged en route to the state championship, besting Sterlington 41-21 in the Class 2A championship game. West St. John won each of its five postseason games by 19 points or more, outscoring its five foes by a combined score of 204-130.

A year later, with Johnson off to LSU, Jackson led the defense and was named the Class 2A Outstanding Defensive Player for the year. WSJ crushed St. Helena 46-2 in the 2A state championship and allowed no more than nine points in any postseason game.

“A lot of people tell me that was the greatest team they’ve ever seen, in any class” said Jackson. “It was just awesome to know you were a part of something like that.”

Jackson fondly remembered the Rams’ postseason runs.

“Playing with guys you grew up with in those playoff games at West St. John … When that train passed while you were playing at home in Edgard, I don’t think there’s anything like it in sports.”

For Johnson, that lifelong connection with his teammates at West St. John is something he said will always endure.

“I remember myself and a bunch of guys I grew up with going out every Friday night, winning games and having fun,” he said.

Johnson was a two-way star for the Rams, racking up big numbers as a tackler, rusher and goalline scorer. He became one of the most feared fullbacks to ever play at LSU, and maintains that role as a lead blocker in the pros.

Jackson said that no matter what level the two have played on, one word can appropriately describe Johnson’s game.

“Intimidating,” said Jackson. “In every aspect, at every level, high school to pro, everyone I run across says the same thing. That guy is intimidating. Whenever Quinn steps on the field, he makes his presence felt.”

Johnson had his share of praise for Jackson as well.

“He’s so, so incredibly aggressive,” said Johnson. “When I played with him, I have to admit, around game time I didn’t really talk to him much. He transforms into a different person, a monster almost. He gets into that zone.”

The two stay busy with their current NFL positions, Jackson with the Chiefs and Johnson now with the Tennessee Titans, but each has made a point to visit home and give back as much as possible.

They have collectively donated school supplies to local children; annually sponsored the Dinvaut golf tournament, which benefits West St. John athletics; established an etiquette class for local youths; and made frequent visits to local schools.

They’ve done as much as they can to remain synonymous with West St. John and Edgard, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Their commitment to try and make an impact in the community, to improve it, I’m just very proud of them,” said former West St. John track and field coach Martin Sylvain, who remains close to each player. “They deserve this.”

Both Jackson and Johnson are primed for another NFL season – and things could get interesting on Oct. 6, when Jackson’s Chiefs host Johnson’s Titans. That will mark the first regular season game between the two.

“I have a feeling a lot of people might be taking that bus ride up from Edgard,” said Jackson. “I’m looking forward to it.”