Veteran wide receiver Bisi Johnson is ready to step up in 2018
Colorado State football has been fortunate to have one of the more electric passing offenses in the country over the last five years. Solid quarterback play combined with an incredibly deep group of wide receivers has made CSU deadly through its aerial attack and one of the most consistent scoring offenses in the Mountain West.
Wide receivers like Michael Gallup (Dallas Cowboys), Rashard Higgins (Cleveland Browns) and Joe Hansley have set the standard on the outside, while Garrett Grayson (Atlanta Falcons) and Nick Stevens became masters of their respective offenses.
As the team begins fall camp, there are quite a few questions surrounding the CSU offense but talent at the skill positions is not one of them, even after losing arguably the most talented wide receiver in the country to the NFL.
Obviously it will be difficult to replace the production of Stevens and Gallup - in two seasons with the Rams, the pair connected for 176 receptions, 2,690 yards and 21 receiving touchdowns. Even having lost Gallup, CSU might have the deepest wide receiver room in the conference though.
Olabisi Johnson (senior), Preston Williams (junior) and Warren Jackson (sophomore) will be a nightmare for opposing secondaries to scheme around and the versatility that these three talented receivers bring to the table is going to give head coach Mike Bobo a wide-open playbook.
Fans have had high hopes for Williams since the day he announced his intent to transfer from Tennessee and Jackson showed exactly how talented he is when the Rams traveled to Tuscaloosa, Al. last season, scoring two touchdowns against the national champions. The "X factor" in the offense may actually be Johnson though.
Johnson is not the biggest or fastest wide receiver on the field but his precise route running, consistent hands and work ethic has made him a staple of the offense over the last few seasons. The Lakewood, Colo. native has had moments where he looked like an NFL prospect in the past, especially in bowl games, but 2018 will be his first chance to truly be the guy.
"This is a huge year for me," Johnson said. "There are definitely some nerves for this year, I am not even going to lie. But, I am really excited for this year. I hear from a lot of people that I am going to be the guy and I am ready to take that role."
Johnson set a CSU single-game record with 265 receiving yards in the 2016 Idaho Potato Bowl and had another big performance in the New Mexico Bowl last December, finishing the contest with six receptions and a team-leading 119 receiving yards. But, after being overshadowed by a couple of really talented receivers in his younger years, Johnson is ready to show that he can be the type of player that produces on a weekly basis.
Johnson earned the nickname "the standard" last season from his teammates and coaches because he set the standard of excellence in practice. Now the senior wide receiver will have an opportunity to show what he is capable as the No. 1.
"This is going to be a different year," Johnson said. "I have to do it in every game and I expect to do it in every game."
The veteran wide receiver is looking to increase his production this season. As one of the most experienced players on the roster, Johnson is also looking to become a more vocal leader, which is something Bobo praised him for. The fourth-year head coach explained that Johnson has always been a player that leads by example in practice but was not necessarily a player that led things vocally.
"We are trying to cultivate him into a leadership role," Bobo said. "It might not be to the total team yet, but with his position group and working with the quarterbacks, I think he has done a better job of that and he is going to have to step up. Will he grow into that leadership role where he is a vocal guy? I do not now. But, we are trying to give him that opportunity."
FEATURE PHOTO: Elliott Jerge | Rocky Mountain Collegian