2015 Football: : Millbrook senior aims to elevate his game

Millbrook's Nazeeh Johnson could play a key part in the Pioneers' success this season. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER — Millbrook High School senior Nazeeh Johnson is looking to make a serious splash as a senior at wide receiver and defensive back for the Pioneers. He intends to get to the next level and attend the University of Richmond next fall to play cornerback.

For Johnson, the road to this opportunity began in his first season in the Pioneers program.

As a freshman, Johnson said he was encouraged to improve and get his name out there after not seeing much playing time. This also included a subpar 40-yard dash time of 5:00.

After that, Johnson said he joined the Millbrook track and field team, competing in events such as the 100-meter and 200-meter dash as well as the long jump.

Thanks to the focus on form running and extra competition, Johnson said he was able to drop his 40 time from 5:00 in 2012 to 4:47 this year.

Going into this year, Johnson is looking to apply this speed and improved technique to the gridiron.

“In high school, speed is everything,” Johnson said. “When I’m fast on both sides of the ball, they account for what I can do.”

Head coach Josh Haymore said he is expecting Johnson to take on more of a leadership role for the Pioneers this season.

Johnson said that he is trying to teach the younger players in the Millbrook program some of the lessons that he has picked up on through his four years of trial-and-error.

For example, Johnson is stressing the weight room as well as picking up second sports as ways to improve as a player.

“My last year, I emphasized to the team, we work together to win games and we can celebrate later,” Johnson said.

“When we’re not, we’re competing for spots. I don’t even have my spot right now,” Johnson said. “And that keeps us on our toes.”

Johnson noted that he has seen a difference in the team’s mindset and its intensity, especially on defense.

“Last year, when we had a tackle, a lot of people were walking to the ball,” Johnson said. “This year, you see all 11 hats to the ball, every time.”

Johnson said that he thinks that he and the team benefited from head coach Josh Haymore’s inclusion competition periods at this year’s camp.

“It helped me a lot, because I love competing ever since I ran track,” Johnson said.

Johnson said, “For me, when I compete for my position, it just makes me feel a lot better … so I know when I go home and go to sleep, I know I did everything I could.”

On top of that, Johnson said that he feels like the team is more of a family this season compared to previous years.

“We help each other out with problems that we have at home. We’re so close,” he said, noting that he believes the team got close “as a family” through these three-day camps.

Johnson said he thinks this close bond will in-turn fire the team up once it hits the field today against the Jefferson High School Cougars.

Although Johnson and the rest of the seniors have yet to experience a winning season, he hinted at big things for the Pioneers.

“We have a very big surprise for our opponents,” Johnson said.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com