The Ohio State football team has announced that this year’s recipient of the “Block O” jersey is sixth-year senior Xavier Johnson. Johnson is the fourth Buckeye ever to receive the honor. Beginning in 2020, the NCAA allowed College football teams to begin using the number zero.
Ohio State decided to make this particular number special by honoring someone on the football team who exemplifies the accountability, character, and toughness that the late Bill Willis exhibited while playing for Ohio State from 1942-1944.
Willis wore jersey number 99, which the University retired in 2007. When the coaching staff chooses a player to honor the Block O jersey with, they feel that player best represents what Willis stood for. Past players chosen included Jonathon Cooper in 2020, Thayer Munford in 2021, and Kamryn Babb last season. All were seniors who led both off the field as much if not more than they did on the field.
Johnson is a former walk-on receiver, who has played multiple positions throughout his career with the Ohio State football program that began in 2019. He has contributed on special teams, and when the football team ran out of running backs in the Peach Bowl last season, he even carried the ball a couple of times.
Johnson graduated in December of 2021 with a degree in consumer and family sciences but has remained on the team as long as his eligibility has allotted him the fortune to do so. No doubt, having someone on the roster with his maturity, versatility, and leadership is invaluable. This past June, Johnson joined the Morning Juice program on 97.1 The Fan out of Columbus, Ohio when he spoke about why he decided to come to the Ohio State football program as a walk-on when he could have accepted a scholarship to play elsewhere.
“It was definitely an ordained thing for me to end up at Ohio State. The maturation process that took place once I got here isn’t something that you can make up. It wasn’t something that you foresee, so coming out of high school, that decision that I made was through a lot of prayer. There were people willing to pay for my school elsewhere, and the first couple of years were hard.”
Johnson’s story of determination and dedication to the process is something that should be highlighted amongst a generation that has been rewarded for quitting and leaving so easily. The transfer portal is littered with stories of guys who thought they could do better elsewhere only to end up in worse situations than the one they had at their original school of choice. Johnson could have been one of those guys, or he could have taken the easier road at the beginning of his career, but he chose the harder path.
That decision was rewarded a few years ago when he was put on scholarship, and today he was given one of the greatest honors in school history. Well done, Xavier. Buckeye Nation salutes you.