Meet Friday night football's instant celebrity: Alonso's Malik Johnson
Courtesy of Alonso football
Malik Johnson spends a lot of time on acrobatic moves. He practices back flips, front flips, at home or at football practice.
“I usually try to do them a few times every day,” Johnson said.
That practice paid off on Friday night when the Alonso High School running back was able to land on his feet – and on ESPN's SportsCenter – after flying through the air on a highlight-worthy play.
It happened in the third quarter against rival Sickles. Johnson took off on a fake punt, tried to avoid a tackle and went to the air. He flipped, landed on his feet and kept going. The play was caught on video by WFLA’s Paul Ryan and quickly went viral. The play also was sent to SportsCenter and was No. 1 on the program’s top 10 plays of the night.
“Malik is going to be special,” Ravens coach Brian Emanuel said. “I think he’s going to be one of the best running backs in Hillsborough County.”
Johnson, a sophomore, did not play last season in order to focus on grades. He was quickly inserted into the starting lineup this season and does a little of everything for Alonso, including punt.
And now he has the green light on fakes whenever he sees an opening – or camera.
“There probably were not a lot of people who knew about Malik,” Emanuel said. “I’m pretty sure they do now.”