One More Year: Johnson's Journey with JMU Football

Published: Oct. 8, 2018 at 4:05 PM EDT
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James Madison running back Cardon Johnson's career with the Dukes has been filled with highlight-reel performances and challenging injuries.

Johnson's time with JMU football started in 2013, when he joined the Dukes after a standout career at Warwick High School in Newport News, Virginia. He is still with the Dukes in 2018, competing in his final year wearing a JMU jersey.

"JMU has definitely been a great experience," said Johnson. "I have built a lot of relationships here and people I can call family and I have seen the program grow."

Johnson is no stranger to James Madison fans. He has rushed for 2,309 yards and 22 touchdowns while hauling in 22 catches for 290 yards and three more scores in 31 career games played.

The 5'9", 200-pound running back appeared to be on his way to a huge senior season in 2017. In the season opener, a road game at East Carolina, Johnson rushed for 265 yards on just 17 carries and scored two touchdowns.

But just two games later, his season would come to an end.

Johnson suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in JMU's blowout win over Norfolk State.

"It was a tough time," said Johnson. "You have a good game, first game, and you think it's going to be a good year for you and third game come and I fell short."

The injury against NSU in 2017 was not Johnson's first in a JMU jersey. He missed part of the 2016 season, also due to an Achilles injury, and sat out the entire 2014 campaign after suffering an injury in spring practice.

"It's been a long road," said Johnson. "It's been a long process but you know, through every adversity I faced, I had good people around me, I had good support."

Despite dealing with multiple injuries, Johnson decided to return to JMU for a sixth season and was granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA in the spring of 2018.

"I just felt, it was the right thing to do, truly in my heart and I just wanted to come back and play one more season," said Johnson. "Finish strong, you know and be here with my teammates and just finish out what I started."

Johnson has been a crucial part of JMU's rushing attack in 2018. Playing alongside fellow seniors Trai Sharp and Marcus Marshall, Johnson has rushed for 221 yards on 56 carries and scored a touchdown in the Dukes' road win at Richmond.

"(I) just want to keep positive," said Johnson. "(I) want to stay focused, want to stay humble and just finish strong."