Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
After awarding the #25 jersey to DB J.R. Walker last week, the Hokies have given the #25 jersey honor to kicker Brian Johnson this week.
Now there is no denying that Johnson deserves this honor after an impressive senior season opener going 3-3 on field goal attempts including making 2 from 40+ yards with a long of 49 yards. Johnson also made all four of his extra points as he had arguably the best game of his career against N.C. State.
So in the strong special teams performance the previous week perspective, Johnson's selection makes clear sense. But this is also a great opportunity to spotlight the fact that Johnson may be one of Virginia Tech's most improved players since 2018 and a big reason why Tech's special teams are a major x-factor in a very good way.
When Johnson first got the kicker job in 2018 after a brief stint filling in for Joey Slye in 2017, Johnson was solid inside 40 but beyond that, he had plenty of question marks going 3-8 from 40-49 yards and missing his lone kick from 50+.
While Johnson's accuracy especially from short-range has always been very good, his leg strength was a major question mark with it leading to Tech adding John Parker Romo in part to take over kickoff duties after the departure of Jordan Stout to Penn State.
However, Johnson's leg strength has grown significantly over the past two seasons with his accuracy following.
Last year, he was 3-5 from 40-49 while also going 1-4 from 50+ including a made 54-yard field goal. Johnson showed signs then that his leg strength had improved but his long-range accuracy was still an issue.
On Saturday, Johnson showed he's taking the next steps into becoming a complete kicker who could even join Joey Slye in the NFL on a regular basis in the future.
Johnson's field goal makes from 40+ were not no doubters in terms of leg strength but they were also quite accurate as Johnson looked more than comfortable bombing it through the uprights. He looked like a confident kicker from anywhere on the field and someone who has taken the next steps into potentially becoming one of the best kickers in the country.
Special teams are as good as they've been in Blacksburg in a long time, and Brian Johnson's development is a big reason for that, making Tech giving him the #25 jersey more than well-deserved.