Even though Leon Johnson was fighting through injuries during his senior year, he didn’t miss a single game. The offensive tackle played in all 13 for the 7-6 Owls, but he admitted that he was far from 100 percent.
Now as he is preparing for the NFL draft, Johnson says he is back to normal, feeling good about his game. He is also honest about his draft prospects.
“I am sensing that I will be an undrafted free agent,” Johnson said in a phone interview last week.
Still, he feels good about his chances of hooking on with an NFL team, especially since he feels back to his old self.
“I am 100 percent,” he said. “In 2017 I wasn’t able to be myself because I was hurt and I wouldn’t let myself miss any games.”
As a redshirt senior Johnson was the starting left tackle after starting all 14 games at right tackle his junior year. He appeared in 45 career games at Temple, starting 31.
Johnson said he participated in local pro days from the Eagles, New York Jets and Giants. He says he has seen all different heights and weights for him. “I would say I am 6-4 and have been between 309-318 (pounds),” he said.
In addition to working hard toward a shot at the NFL, he has also been involved in giving back to the community, working in three charitable endeavors.
“He is working with the School District of Philadelphia to spread awareness on heart health for children and help raise fund to maintain AED’s in schools.
Johnson is always working with school to promote Pizza Hut’s literacy program, “Book It,” where youngsters get rewarded for reading.
On Monday he also took students to New York, to the newly opened NFL Experience as a reward for their academic performance.
“These causes mean a lot to me,” said Johnson, who has earned his degree in advertising.
And by this weekend he is looking forward to finding out his next football destination.
One other selling point is that Johnson is able to play both tackle and guard spots. He played a little bit of guard earlier in his career, but the way Temple practices, the lineman frequently play multiple positions.
“I want to think coach Weis for putting guys in positions and changing us all the time in practice,” said Johnson, referring to offensive line coach Chris Wiesehan. “You could play anywhere, even center and practicing at all the positions and has really helped me.”
Johnson doesn’t regret playing through injuries, and he said any fears about his health should have been alleviated after he played in the College Gridiron Showcase in Addison, Texas from Jan. 6-10. This was a showcase with a controlled scrimmage rather than a game reliant on playing time and play calling.
“When I went to Texas, it was a question every team asked me, are you 100 percent and my answer was yes,’” he said. “And seeing me there should have proved that.”
And ever since he says he has continued to refine his skills as Johnson says he feels much better about himself now his health isn’t an issue.
Foster has a positive attitude
Temple cornerback Artrel Foster isn’t sure what will happen this weekend, whether he will be selected in the NFL draft or pursued as an undrafted free agent, the more likely scenario.
Either way, he has a positive attitude.
“Anything would be a blessing,” he said last week by phone. “I am just looking to get my foot in the door.”
As a redshirt senior Foster appeared in all 13 games and had 26 tackles. He has extensive experience, having appeared in 52 career games, while making 24 starts.
This past season he played a nickel corner, primarily guarding receivers in the slot. He has also played outside and feels that being able to do both will help his marketability.
“My first position was corner but once I was able to play nickel, it shows how versatile I can be and how fast I can pick up different positions,” Foster said.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 197 pounds, Foster says another benefit is that he, like so many other Temple players from last season’s team, has earned his degree. He graduated with a degree in criminal justice.
“When I am around NFL prospects and we are asked how many have their degrees, usually it’s only about half who raise their hand,” Foster said. “I credit Temple for emphasizing academics.”
With his degree, he was able to just concentrate on working toward a professional career since Temple’s season ended with a 28-3 win over FIU in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 21.
“I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from NFL teams,” he said. “They like my size and said they liked me on film.”
The true gauge will come this weekend, as Foster is looking for a chance to prove himself at the next level.