Recently we had the privilege to speak with New York Guardians DT Toby Johnson, an anchor on that tough defensive line. Johnson was a major reason the Guardians were 2nd in sacks, 2nd in points allowed, 4th in takeaways, and tied for 1st in defensive TDs.
Johnson himself had 11 tackles, 2 passes defended, and an interception. This shows his nose for the football, and the wherewithal to get your hands in the passing lanes if you’re unable to get to the quarterback.
When asked about whether he would accept an invitation back to the XFL, and continue to contribute to the dominance the New York Guardians defensive line showed, he says his focus right now is trying to get back to the NFL.
A University of Georgia product, Johnson had previously spent time in camps with the Titans, Jaguars, Bears, Panthers, Vikings, and Lions. He applauds the XFL for allowing players like himself to get time on the field to try to get a chance at playing in the NFL, whether again, or for the first time:
“I’m excited for everybody. There were a lotta guys on our team that had never played in the league, and this was like a gateway for them to get their little shot.”Toby Johnson
I asked how it was being in the XFL if there were any differences being in NFL camps and locker rooms. He told me the atmosphere was very similar. The pressure coaches put on players every day, making sure they compete for their jobs every time they stepped on the football field.
“Everybody was locked in and trying to keep that competitive level up, knowing if you took a play off, you could end up being replaced on game day.”Toby Johnson on the pressure in the locker room
He gives most of the credit to the coaching staff, mainly his position coach CJ Ah-You. Having played in the NFL for the Bills, and Rams, along with coaching at the college level with Oklahoma (Special Teams), and Vanderbilt (Defensive Line Coach). Ah-You brings a lot of experience to the XFL, and it showed in the way the D-line played in New York.
While Johnson is working towards a return to the NFL, he thoroughly enjoyed playing for the XFL’s Guardians and welcomes a return to the league. Once again, a player we have talked to spoke highly of the league and coaching.
More testimony by people within the league that proves the XFL has value.
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