MEDINA — Noah Johanson’s love for football is almost unparalleled. In fact, the 2010 Medina graduate’s affinity for the game knows no borders.
It’s why the 6-foot-4, 240-pound quarterback came back to Medina as an assistant coach and it’s why he’ll travel 3,615 miles in a month to not only teach the game, but play it.
A graduate of Wittenberg University, Johanson has one year left of college eligibility and plans on using it in Durham, England, where he will earn a master’s degree in business marketing or international relations.
“Just saying that I get goosebumps,” Johanson said. “I had a hell of a player in front of me at Wittenberg in (2013 North Coast Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year) Reed Florence, so I couldn’t complain.
“We won three conference titles and finished seventh in the nation. I was fortunate to be a part of a ton of wins, which I didn’t unfortunately get at Medina. Over in Durham, we’re supposed to contend for a national title. To be in on every play and not just short yardage stuff is exciting. I’m hoping I’m not rusty.”
The rust will come off in time for Johanson, who hasn’t started full-time since his freshman year at Wittenberg on the junior varsity squad.
What intrigues Johanson even more is he’ll be traveling to England the second week of September as a student, player and coach.
Through NFLUK.com, more and more American players are headed overseas. Johanson estimates 15 players will be making the trip, with five serving as a player/coach.
Johanson will not only be the quarterback for Durham University, he’ll also be the Saints’ offensive coordinator.
He’s been on Hudl.com breaking down game film in preparation for Durham’s 10-game season and has been helping Medina’s coaching staff this season as a way to get ready.
“I was nervous, but I have a buddy (Chris Stone) doing the same thing,” Johanson said. “It’s not that big of a change culturally. I’m nervous more about coaching and playing at the same time than I am the move.
“Being a quarterback, they’ll expect a little bit more out of me because they’ll want a leadership type player. It’ll be a lot more than just learning a new playbook. I’m trying to learn different players and personalities while I’m coaching up here.”
While he’s there, Johanson is looking forward to becoming the man Durham turns to on the field and off. At the same time, the 22-year-old doesn’t want preferential treatment.
“I don’t want to put myself on a pedestal,” he said. “I want to put myself where I put all the other players. They respect the American players. They know we’ve been through a lot. They know we know a lot that they might not know. If you put yourself at their level at a colleague level, you won’t come off as someone who puts himself above the others.
“Over here, you have coaches ripping you apart and you just know it’s the culture of football. You learn to accept it. I’m not sure they’re used to that over there. … I’m not sure if that’s what they’re expecting. I’m nervous about how their players will react to us.”
As for what he expects out of his team, perfection isn’t out of the question. Durham is expected to do fantastic things this season, which begins in November, takes a break and then finishes in March.
“I would love to win a national championship,” Johanson said. “They’re starting to love their football over there. There’s a movement behind it.
“Durham has never won a national championship, so it’ll be nice to do it over there. Twelve of us (Americans) are going over there. We don’t even know each other yet, but the national championship is the wanted goal.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.