The Michigan Daily --Wednesday, September 20, 1989 - Page 11
Unknown Bret Johnson forced
Thrown into sticky situation,
to follow Aikman's
by Adam Benson
Daily Football Writer
Bruin quarterback Bret Johnson is
waiting for top billing.
In high school, he dominated the
California Interscholastic Federation,.
not losing any game he started at
Mission Viejo's El Toro High in
over two years, as well as gaining
All-American quarterback honors
from The Sporting News and Parade
Yet prep crosstown rival and
current USC quarterback Todd
Marinovich, who finished second to
Johnson as the CIF's player of the
year, grabbed the hype and major
media attention, being featured in
Sports Illustrated and USA Today.
AT UCLA, Johnson beat out
another talented leader, Jimmy Bond,
to win the Bruins' quarterback job.
However, most UCLA hearts
continue to mourn the departure of
the near-legendary Troy Aikman,
who actually moved east to become
It seemed Johnson would have a
chance to take the cameras for
himself during UCLA's prime time
showing with Michigan. That was
until a man called Elvis stepped in
and took top billing.
So again, Johnson waits patiently
for his moment, but he remains
confident. Remember, he plays in
the city where stars are born.
"If I go out and just play well,
things will take care of themselves,"
Bret said. "I'm really just
concentrating on this season and
getting UCLA together. We've
started off a little shaky, hopefully
we'll be able to rebound. I'm not
focusing on being the next great guy
BY JUST winning the job,
Johnson joined the list of great
UCLA quarterbacks including Aik-
man, 1967 Heisman Trophy winner
Gary Beban, 1975 All-American
John Sciarra, and Mark Harmon,
who choose to star on the sliver
While Johnson is not yet known
amongst the general public, he
knows what he can do and will not
compromise his style for added
"I'm very different from both Todd
and Troy," Bret said. "Out here, I've
been able to establish my own type
of game and style that I play. It is
important to develop a style, but it
is also important to play within
Bret's father and high school
coach, Bob Johnson, says Bret "has
a lot of charisma. He seems to come
up with big plays when you need
them. He can do a lot of different
things. He moves like a smaller
Elway, or like a Montana that can
move. He's not a Marino, but he can
move the pocket."
Tennessee, Johnson went 26 for 42
for 253 yards with one touchdown
and one interception. He would
improve for this last weekend's win
over San Diego State, tossing 15
completions out of 27 attempts for
262 years and another touchdown,
performances which pleased his
coach Terry Donahue.
"He had a very credible game
(against SDSU)" Donahue said. "He
has a nice field presence about him.
He doesn't panic, he doesn't press,
he just plays the game. His greatest
asset is his competitiveness. He is
extremely competitive. If I could get
every member on the team to be as
competitive as Bret Johnson is,
you'd have a great team here.
"He thrives on the game, he
enjoys it. A lot people say that Bret
is cocky, I would say he is real
competitive and demonstrative. He
did a nice job."
A NICE JOB, even when
compared his predecessor.
Bret said about stepping in for
Aikman: "I really haven't thought
about it that much. I really haven't
felt any extra pressure to replace him
because of our age difference. With
me being only a freshman, people
don't really expect me to do the
same type of things."
His father added: "He is a very
confident kid and in control of most
situations. He felt the UCLA job
was going to be his, so he really
hasn't stopped to smell the roses. He
is going one step at a time and he
seems'to be right on course. He felt
that when he when there he would be
a starter this year.
"I think he needs time and some
good performances. I don't think that
people close to UCLA football are
still talking about Troy Aikman."
Both Johnsons hope that anyone
still thinking Aikman may stop after
seeing a strong performance against
"WHEN HE won the job, the
Michigan game popped out at him
faster than any other game," Bob
said. "He really thrives and looks
forward to Rose Bowl-type,
Michigan type games."
Johnson is unfazed by the extra
See JOHNSON, Page 12
by Adam Benson
Daily Football Writer
Imagine how Elvis Grbac felt Fans ar
when he took the field last Saturday startled by,
against Notre Dame. Michigan t
"The first time I got out there, I Desmond H
got the sense of the crowd," Grbac football at
said. "It was real different. Every- with Grba
body is right on top of you. The receive ani
players are right opposite you, but graduation.
you got to put it out of your mind. "I K1
Once you do that, everything else recruited b
falls into place." was more s
It was special for him, and the he signed
others around him. said. "He
"When he first came out, he guess thed
looked enthusiastic. He was happy," that Elvis
said Michigan tight end Derrick
Walker. "Leroy (Hoard) and I told
him to take his time and everything
would be alright. He took that really
well. He felt really comfortable and
he came in with confidence. It
worked well for him."
Grbac added: "At that point, I
think we were down 17-6 and the
guys were down. I just tried to get
BUT GRBAC needed to show
more than just a pleasant demeanor.
His 17 for 21, 134 yard performance
provided almost the suitge needed to
surpass top-ranked Notre Dame.
"The Michigan quarterback came
in and did a tremendous job," said
Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz. "He
threw the ball well." 'He hi
Michigan coach Bo Schembechler c ha n CE
beamed over his new quarterback.
"I'm not really surprised by Grbac. to us
He did a good job for a first-year there i
guy. I told the squad before the game
to be ready, because Grbac might be CO m e.
our quarterback. The best he did, he a ro u n C
showed some moxie for a young kid.-
The most important thing, he has a t h e be
good arm, he has some zip on the to CC
ball and he showed some presence on here
Remember, this is a kid who H a r b at
barely tossed a pass in high school,_
who came from a family where
soccer was the big game, who came Des
to a top football program and com-
peted with a Parade All-American
(Michael Taylor) and state record
holders from Texas (Wilbur Odom) strong arm
and California (Ken Sollom) for who know
ess who will be starting
ay against UCLA?
re not the only people
Grbac's emergence to the
helm. Wolverine receiver
Howard played high school
Cleveland St. Joesph's
c, but did not expect to
ymore Grbac passes after
NEW he was being
by Big Ten schools, but I
urprised when I heard that
with Michigan," Howard
didn't throw the ball, but I
saw the great potential
has. Elvis does have a
Grbac knew that his high school
career did not boast the great records
that others' before his did.
"Maybe the most I've thrown in
high school was fifteen passes a
game." St. Joesph's employed an
offensive set with "mostly I-backs,
using the power game. Most of the
time we were using three tight ends
and when we got down to the twenty
yard line we used the wishbone."
So how did this guy get here?
"It was a real challenge for me,
because I only played my senior year
in high school," Grbac said. "I didn't
expect to really do anything, maybe
in three or four years I'd become -a
college quarterback and learn all the
"When I got here, I tried to learn
the defenses and Mike Taylor really
helped me. It is so much easier
going out there. Wilbur is on the
sidelines, and he reads the defenses
and he can tell me what is going on.
When we go out there again, thai's
all in me. All the quarterbacks really
help one another, no matter who is
He has needed to learn how to
move his game up to the college
level, but few doubted that Grbac
could lead a team.
"He didn't throw the ball very
much at all," Howard said, "but he
did throw it when it counted. There
was one game where I fumbled three
times and he threw two touchdowns
and a two point conversion. So he
came though when we needed him."
In high school, he became a
football hero. Strangely though, he
never really intended to play. At 6-
foot-5, Elvis seemed destined for
basketball. He also experienced a
heavy soccer influence, from his
Yugoslavian parents and his older
brother, who used to be a soccer
goalie. But Elvis instead opted for
the shoulder pads.
"At St. Joe's, football and
basketball were the main things.,The
coach told me if I wanted to try out I
had a bright future there. I just tried
out and everything worked out. My
junior year I started to get better, but
my senior year I really topped it off.
See GRBAC, Page 12
'I'm really just con-
centrating on this
season and getting
We've started off a
little shaky, hopefully
we'll be able to re-
bound. I'm not fo-
cusing on being the
next great guy at
WHATEVER he is, right now,
that doesn't look too bad. Against
asn't gotten a
e to put his arm
e yet, I think
s a lot more to
If you stick
d, he might be
on Elvis Grbac
n and he's a tall, thick kid
ws what he is doing out
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