For the 2012 college football season, the University of massachusetts (UMass) will be making the move to the college football's highest level - the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
2010 Warren Area High School graduate and former Dragons punter and kicker Colter Johnson will be making the move with them.
After spending the last two seasons playing for Alfred State of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), Johnson recently signed a letter of intent to play football for UMass beginning in the 2012 season.
Photo courtesy of aldredstate.edu
Signs with UMass
Warren Area High School graduate and former Alfred State sophomore punter Colter Johnson has signed his letter of intent to continue his academic and athletic career at the University of Massachusetts. UMass will make the move to Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) for the upcoming 2012 season, competing in the Mid-American Conference East Division. Here, Johnson, left, signs his letter of intent while Alfred State football coach Mick Caba looks on.
Johnson, who served as the Pioneers' punter and place kicker during the 2011 season, is the third player in Alfred State history to sign with an NCAA Division I institution. He is the first county football player to go D-1 FBS since Mitch Straight signed with Akron in 2008 and the first Warren player to go D-1 FBS since Ben Maljovec signed with Syracuse in 2004.
As a Dragon, Johnson was on all-region all-star teams from his sophomore year on, finishing as a Region 5 first-team selection on offense, defense and special teams as a senior. He was a tight end, defensive lineman and punter and kicker. He is tied for a WAHS school record with a 47-yard field goal in 2008.
At 6'5 and 195 pounds, Johnson was one the NJCAA's top special teams players in each of the past two seasons.
In 2011, he punted 38 times and averaged 38.9 yards per punt. His long kick was 66 yards, six punts went at least 50 yards and another six punts were downed inside the 20 yard-line. He also kicked off 55 times and averaged 55.6 yards per kick with five touchbacks. As the place kicker, Johnson was 6-of-12 in field goal attempts, including hitting four field goals in the Pioneers' Region III championship game victory.
Johnson was named all-region following the 2011 season and was named honorable mention NJCAA All-American and 1st Team All-Northeast Football Conference in 2010.
Johnson is excited for his new opportunity and is expected to compete for playing time as both a punter and kicker for the Minutemen.
"UMass is a growing football team with a new coaching staff and positions to fill," said Johnson. "I feel that I fit in well and will be part of their growth."
Alfred State coach Mick Caba is proud of Johnson and expects big things from Johnson.
"Colter had a great career at Alfred State and we are excited to see what he can accomplish," Caba said. "As good of a football player as Colter is, he is an even better person."
Johnson will be joining a UMass team that will be making the move into FBS and into the Mid-American Conference-East division. The Minutemen's 2012 schedule will feature conference games with Buffalo, Akron, Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Ohio and non-conference games at the Connecticut and Michigan.
UMass was 5-6 in 2011 and will be led by new head coach Charley Molnar. Molnar was most recently the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame under head coach Brian Kelly.
"I have learned many important lessons at Alfred State," said Johnson. "I feel that my experiences there will help me fit right in on the UMass campus."