Oct. 14, 2011
SULLIGENT, Ala. -
Staying grounded while attaining success is not something that is easily accomplished. When one is able to give back to those who have helped them succeed, then the process becomes much easier.
Rashad Johnson, former safety for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team, and current safety for the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL has been working to show the residents of his hometown of Sulligent, Ala., his appreciation for their unending support throughout the past few years.
"I'm glad that I've been fortunate enough to be able to give back to my hometown," says Johnson. "I want the people of Sulligent to know how much I appreciate them and all that they've done to support me throughout this journey."
This past June, Johnson held a free football camp for children grades 1-12 at Sulligent High School. The `Walk-on To Champions Camp' featured both current NFL players and former Alabama football players as instructors.
"Hosting this camp was something I really wanted to do in my hometown," says Johnson. "I visited other camps last year and tried to take in all that they did so when I started my own camp, it would be successful. It was a great feeling to be able to do something special for my hometown."
Johnson's generosity certainly has not gone unnoticed by the people of Sulligent. On October 14, the Sulligent High School Blue Devils football team will be retiring Johnson's jersey during halftime of their homecoming game against Cherokee High School.
"To know that my jersey number is being retired is an indescribable feeling. I'm at a point where I know that it's happening, but I don't really think reality will set in until I'm in the moment and on the field," says Johnson.
Johnson also adds that he feels tremendous joy and excitement to be honored in this way.
To show his appreciation to Sulligent High School, Johnson will be donating new Nike cleats to every player on the football team.
"When I was playing there, sometimes we had to wear cleats that were old and worn out," says Johnson. "It's great to be able to provide not only new, but stylish cleats to the players."
Johnson reflects on his time spent playing football for the Blue Devils and says that he most enjoyed the time spent with his friends on the team and being able to just enjoy football as a game.
"Being where I am now, and seeing that football is a job that I have to really work hard at to be able to maintain the level of success that I want, really makes me appreciate the time I had playing for fun even more," says Johnson.
Johnson also points out UA's head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart as being not only crucial to his development as a player, but also helpful in his transition to the NFL.
"I had an excellent time at Alabama and Coach Saban and Coach Smart really helped me to grow and develop as a safety," says Johnson. "I was fortunate enough to be brought in and hired by the Arizona Cardinals in 2009 and I credit them and their coaching with helping me get there. It's nice to see that the hard work I did at Alabama has paid off and allowed me these opportunities."