COLLEGE PARK -- — For the majority of his high school career Ty Johnson toiled in relative anonymity in Western Maryland, starring for two Class 1A state championship teams at Fort Hill in Cumberland and putting up absurd statistics, like his 17.4 yards per carry mark his junior year. When he committed to Maryland last June, he didn't even have a profile with any of the major recruiting services. He was from a small school in a void of high-level talent. He was overlooked.
In Maryland's 50-21 victory over Richmond in Saturday's season opener, Johnson finally got his chance to step out of the shadows before the remnants of an announced crowd of 38,119 at Byrd Stadium. The Terps already led the Spiders by 29 points when he took his first career, but he still dazzled and earned coach Randy Edsall's praise by putting up 83 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
"Ty Johnson, I love being around that guy too," Edsall said. "It's amazing for a guy from Fort Hill. Those guys out there, the football program they have at Fort Hill, it's unbelievable. That kid just works. Doesn't say anything. Smart. He's got great vision. You saw how he set those blocks up."
Johnson took his first three collegiate carries for gains of seven, nine and 23 yards to set up his first career touchdown, a two-yard run.
Johnson's performance was part of an incredibly successful day for the Maryland rushing attack. Running backs Brandon Ross and Wes Brown posted 150 and 74 yards, respectively, and the Terps averaged 7.6 yards per carry as a team.
While Brown and Ross fashion themselves as a "thunder and lightning" duo for the Terps, Johnson could add yet another dimension to the running game. Edsall was excited about his potential during the preseason, and Johnson's made an impression upon his teammates.
"Ty's a good guy," Ross said. "He's always eager to learn and eager to get better. You can see that when we're in all the meetings together. He was just waiting patiently today. He's got the speed. He's smart. We knew once he got in, he was going to be able to make some things happen."
It remains to be seen when Johnson will get his first carries in meaningful moments for the Terps. But without much depth aside from Ross, Brown and Johnson, the freshman's time could come soon enough.
Major Division I college football is a far cry from Friday nights in Cumberland, but Edsall and the Terps are confident in what Johnson's shown that he could become a key contributor on Saturdays in College Park.
"I loved that kid too," Edsall said. "Love 'em all. But I'm glad to see him doing what he's doing."