Kansas football’s top 25 difference-makers: No. 22, TE Ben Johnson
Tom Keegan and I collaborated on a list of 25 potential difference-makers for the Kansas football team in 2017 and will release one each weekday leading up to the Sept. 2 season-opener vs. SEMO, at Memorial Stadium. We will list them in reverse order of how indispensable/potentially impactful they are for KU's hopes of having a more competitive season.
By the end of the season, don’t expect senior tight end Ben Johnson’s stat line to resemble his totals from the previous two seasons.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound pass-catcher and blocker only had 10 receptions as a junior (110 yards, one touchdown) after a 13-catch sophomore season (115 yards).
New KU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said Johnson is a rare classic tight end who is skilled and multi-dimensional — the Jayhawks can even line Johnson up as a fullback in some formations.
That’s why Johnson, form nearby Basehor, feels poised for a memorable senior campaign.
“I want to be first-team All-Big 12,” Johnson said earlier this summer, during an interview on KLWN’s Rock Chalk Sports Talk, “and I think just keeping that goal in mind I’m preparing for that each and every day.”
A tight end isn’t a necessity within an Air Raid offense, but Meacham likes the idea of lining Johnson up at a variety of spots.
Said Johnson: “I think I’m pretty good at blocking. You’ve got to have that grit when it comes down to putting your hand down on the ground and being able to man up with a D-end… But I also think I’ve got pretty good hands, too. So that kind of broadens what I can do.”
How does Meacham plan to make use of Johnson’s skill set?
“We’re just going to have to wait and see,” Johnson offered.
A one-dimensional tight end, Meacham said this week, wouldn’t be worth a scholarship for a program running the Air Raid. But the man in charge of KU’s offense said Johnson can do so many things well that getting on the field shouldn’t be an issue for the senior.
“If you have one, yeah I love those guys if you can find them,” Meacham said of multifaceted tight ends. “It’s just hard to find them.”