BRADENTON, Fla. -- ESPN 150 wide receiver Travis Johnson (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit) walked around with a limp during Team Tampa’s final workout Thursday evening.
Despite dealing with a “mish-mash” of minor leg ailments, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior promised he’d be ready to go for the weekend’s IMG Madden Football 7-on-7 national tournament. The recent Miami commitment did not disappoint.
Johnson proved to be unstoppable this weekend, as Team Tampa rolled to the championship with a 28-17 over Detroit-based Max Exposure.
“I’m more like 90 percent right now with my leg,” Johnson said. “It’s one thing or another, but I’ll be able to get some rest now before training camp starts.”
Johnson came up big with the game-winning touchdown in a winner’s bracket grudge match against the South Florida Express Elite and made several tight sideline catches using his physicality to overwhelm smaller defenders.
“We are the local favorite here, so we had a target on our back from the start,” Johnson said. “I had to come into this tournament with the mindset that I’m the most dominant force on the field and no one can guard me.
“Whenever I’m in the game, my job is to get the football.”
The victory over the South Florida Express Elite, a tightly-contested 24-18 decision, erased a sour memory for Johnson when Team Tampa lost twice to the team of top Miami-Dade and Broward County prospects.
“We came in here in April and lost to South Florida Express twice, and we don’t like losing to begin with, but losing to the same team twice is inexcusable,” Johnson said. “So there is definitely a rivalry there, and we had to give them some payback.”
Consecutive blowout victories over the Shane Morris-led Max Exposure that won the tournament in 2011 completed the tour of redemption for Johnson.
“It’s all about good fun and competition,” Johnson said. “Everyone wants to win and the more competitive you are, the less you like to lose.
“We’re a very competitive group. You can almost say we need to win because we hate to lose.”
Johnson committed to Miami this week and sported a Hurricanes visor for the weekend’s tournament. His future goal is to bring the same game he brought this weekend to the ACC program for the next four years.
“Miami is a program that needs guys to step up and make a difference on the field,” Johnson said. “I want to be one of those guys. There is a great coaching staff there led by coach [Al] Golden and they want to win big, but they also want to do it the right way.
“That’s what appealed to me when it came to Miami. I want to be somewhere where everyone is working towards the same goal like we did when it came to Team Tampa.”
As a junior, Johnson had 48 catches for 653 yards and eight touchdowns. The numbers were pretty good but not good enough to meet his standards.
“I have to continue to get better and do more to make a difference at Jesuit and at Miami,” Johnson said. “I have to run better routes. I have to be a better down-field blocker on running plays. I have to do more to get open. I’m not close to a finished product.”