D’Ernest Johnson talks to Jim Rome about his journey

D’Ernest Johnson made the most of a golden opportunity last Thursday when he helped lead the Cleveland Browns to a Thursday night victory over the Denver Broncos.

When you are given an opportunity, it’s up to you what you do with it. In the case of Cleveland Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson, he did everything in his power just to get an opportunity and his story is quite inspiring.

When you have a good story and success, people want to talk to you.

That was the case for Johnson who was a guest on The Jim Rome Show and told his incredible story on how he got to the NFL and then to rush for 146 yards and a touchdown to lead the Browns to a much-needed victory last Thursday night against the Broncos.

As Rome mentioned during the interview, Johnson left the University of South Florida as the school’s leader in all-purpose yards (4,186), receptions by a running back (73), and receiving yards by a running back (909). Yet, he went undrafted.

Was it his 5-foot-10 frame? Surely not.

Needing money to help feed his family, Johnson worked on a fishing boat and as a personal trainer. When he wasn’t working, he was working out and sending his resume all over the place. One of those places was the Alliance of America Football league.

He finally found a team in the Orlando Apollos. He quickly found success, but that opportunity was coming to a close as the league folded.

Back to the slow grind for Johnson.

He had tryouts with the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers but was not signed. He visited the Browns and they initially passed on him, but then decided to call him back.

When he got to training camp, he said he was like the fifth running back on the depth chart, but he just kept his head down and kept grinding. He ended up being the third running back heading into the season opener.

Johnson lives by the mantra “trust the process” and slow grind, which he has an apparel line for. That’s a great message to anyone who is striving to achieve their goals and dreams.

Johnson had an opportunity last year against the Cowboys and showed what he is capable of, rushing for 95 yards on 13 carries. Last Thursday, opportunity came knocking again.

He said it was “indescribable” when he scored his first career NFL touchdown in his first career NFL start. Johnson also mentioned he had a bunch of touchdown celebration ideas, but essentially blanked out and could only yell in triumph.

This week Cleveland will play host to the Steelers in a pivotal AFC North showdown. Nick Chubb is expected to return from injury this week, so Johnson likely won’t be starting this week. He will likely be put into Kareem Hunt’s role being that Hunt is still out a minimum of two more weeks.

Johnson said he would be supportive of Chubb and noted how happy Chubb was for him when he scored the touchdown against Denver. Called Chubb a big brother.

Chubb wasn’t the only one happy for Johnson. The entire locker room rallied behind him and celebrated his hard-earned success and that shows how this team feels about Johnson and what he’s been through to get to this point.

The biggest thing that should take out of all of this is perseverance. If you have a dream and goals you set out to achieve, continue to chase them and make the most of any opportunity that comes your way.

Johnson’s story is incredible and he will look to add to that lore this Sunday. He said the team has to get better and take it one day at a time in order to go 1-0 this week.