College Station linebacker Chantz Johnson comes from a football family.
His father, Jerry Johnson, won the second national championship in Florida where he began defensive intervention for three years and spent time in the NFL. The elder Johnson is now the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Texas A&M football team.
Shantz’s older brother Jerry Johnson III plays multiple positions for Rice, while his cousin Kamari Wilson is a secure student in Florida.
At the end of the day, Schantz’s mother, Zhanna Johnson, is the head coach.
“She always called herself a coach,” Schantz laughed. “She always helps me. She is always on my back to keep me strong, and I never let myself go. She always keeps me on the right track.”
Football is a family game for the Johnsons, and as Chantz continues to pursue his dreams of playing at the next level, he knows he will have plenty of support at home.
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“I really grew up around it,” Schantz said. “Growing up as a kid, my family and I just grew up loving football, watching my brother and other cousins play it, so I always wanted to play it. But my mum held me back until I grew up to play it, because she thought it would be better for me…for my body and my mind.”
Johnson started out as a tight end but moved on to defense at College Station Middle School.
“I was excited about it because, frankly, I’ve never liked to be offended,” Schantz said.
Chantz said he was enjoying stopping a lot and helping him get his attack back on the field. He points to the coaching staff at College Station and his father helping him develop his skills.
“It’s really a blessing to have that kind of connection with my dad and to be able to get that kind of coaching to help me with my senior year football and in high school,” Chantz said. “Since I was little, he’s always been trying to help me, he knows how to grow my body, so once I’m done with this season, he and I will probably train until I leave for spring football wherever I go.”
Chantz has also worked with other coaches during her sabbatical including Jacory Nichols.
After one year at the middle school level, one year on the freshman team and one at the JV, Chantz was called up to college as a freshman. Despite the great depth at the full back, defense coordinator Chance Leclerc wanted to get Chantz on the field.
“He was one of those kids that we kind of saw as a hybrid player, and we were pretty deep at full-back last year,” Leclerc said. “We felt like he was a kid and we needed to find actors for him, so we kind of built a position where we had the opportunity to get him on the field, and that was in our four-man front, and he really excelled at that.”
Schantz spent the first three seasons jumping from the outside back to the inside and then onto the defensive line. Now in his final season with the Cougars, he’s back as an outside quarterback.
“It’s fun,” said Schantz. “It’s fun to play behind the line, especially at the university level, like running, hitting people, being able to do interceptions, falling, covering people, so it’s fun.”
Leclerc said Chantz has improved a lot during his four seasons with the Cougars, and while he’s always worked hard physically, he’s now starting to become a student of the game.
“He took that role as an outside back and really worked with him,” Leclerc said. “He got a lot better at reading whether it was a run or a pass play, and his reaction to what he’s supposed to do from that once he got his reading was good too.”
Notes – Fifth-seeded College Station (3-1, 1-0) will play at Georgetown East View (0-4, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in District 11-5A Division I play. The Cougars opened the county with a 38-10 win over Leander last week, while East View fell to Cedar Park 59-17.