Cyclones Johnson signs on as preferred walk-on to throw shot at UT

Published 11:33 am Friday, May 13, 2022

Elizabethton High School senior Conner Johnson has experienced many exciting moments during his time as an athlete at the school.

From winning back-to-back state football championships to being an eyelash from a third and finishing as an All-State shot put thrower last year in Murfreesboro during the Spring Fling.

He can add another page to the scrape book after Thursday when he inked his name to be a preferred walk-on at the University of Tennessee to throw the shot.

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“It was really a tough one because I was debating between Virginia Tech and UT,” said Johnson. “God led me to go to UT so that is where I am going.”

Prior to signing, each speaker that talked about Johnson not only referred to his athletic ability but to the spiritual role model he has been to those around him and to the coaches themselves.

“I am proud of the person Conner Johnson is,” said Athletic Director Forrest Holt. “If you need someone to look up to, look to Conner.”

Discus and shot put throwing coach Jim Presnell shared how that he was approached two years ago to coach Johnson. Presnell had just retired after 42 years of coaching and wasn’t sure that he wanted to return.

“The first question I wanted to know was who he was and what had he done,” said Presnell. “I have never met a stronger kid physically and his spiritual life is just as good. He has been an influence on me as well.”

Cyclone head track coach Mark Newman told family and friends on Thursday that “Tennessee doesn’t know what they are getting yet”.

“Our families have been close and it’s like another son is leaving me,” said Newman. “Conner is one of the hardest working young men around. To see the young man that God is molding is a tribute to his parents Vicki and Travis. I am truly honored to know Conner and be a part of his life.”

Johnson shared one of his most humbling moments in football when he spoke about being a freshman and having a 130-pound player throwing him on his behind.

“It was a humbling experience and we still talk about it today,” said Johnson.