Kobe Johnson: From Season-Ending Injury to Staple of the NDSU Offense

PCL tear ended sophomore season; now back healthy as no. 2 running back

FARGO, N.D. — In Kobe Johnson’s freshman year at North Dakota State the running back was one of four to rush for over 600 yards. Then the spring season limited him to just six games due to a PCL tear.

“I never really had to face that. In high school, I rarely missed a game. Maybe one over my whole career,” Johnson said. “To miss half a season like that was pretty tough on me but leaning on guys that have been through it before. Being able to talk to them and see how they got through it and just taking it day by day.

One of those teammates Johnson leaned on was receiver Phoenix Sproles who was also out with a season-ending ankle injury.

“Me and Phoenix are actually really close so having those conversations with him sometimes and seeing how he moves, how he reacts about it,” Johnson said. “How he goes about his things on a daily basis. I took it upon myself to watch him and learn as much as I could for him.”

Now the Florida native is back 100 percent healthy and earning the second most carries, getting the ball 11 times for 77 yards part of 259 on the ground as a team in week one.

“My preparation and the work I’ve been putting in over the last three years just leading up to this point. I would also say just the coaches trusting in me. Teammates trusting in me. Understanding the game plan. Things like that all go into factor when it comes to game time.”

Johnson’s success in the backfield complements the other back who he shares the rock with, Dom Gonnella, where together both combined for 203 yards on Saturday.

“You see he is more of a bigger back so he’s the power guy and also has some speed. He can get to the outside as you saw a couple times in the game,” Johnson said. “I’m more of the speed back but if I need to, I can also get that hard two yards.

Part of a new season followed by a hot start comes a new look for the tailback switching from 24 to 4, a number that represents something close to his heart.

“It’s a number I wore in high school. It just signifies something that means a lot to me,” Johnson said. “My dad actually told me that he likes the number four because it represents my two brothers, myself and my younger sister.”

The junior said 11 carries is a good amount for him to showcase his abilities and looks forward to continuing that as the season goes on.

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