Real Talk Season 2 with QBV #6: Mekhai Johnson: RedShirt Junior Running Back for Marist College
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
This week on Real Talk, our team had the chance to talk to Marist Running back Mekhai Johnson!
In his junior season, Johnson started 4 games in 2019 before his season was cut short by an injury. During those games he started he averaged 4.7 yards per carry and one touchdown, he had a season-high 125 yards on 16 carries, with a long of 54 and a touchdown against Stetson.
Johnson has many honorable mentions during his college career and prior to arriving at Marist College. Johnson talks about his training regimen and his expectations for his last season at Marist College, along with his views on a prep year for young athletes.
What have you been doing to stay in shape?
“So right now we are on a pause for all team activities and workouts and also there’s a pause on campus so that means the weight room is closed everything is closed.” So we have been going to the local gym, my housemates and I following the routine and stuff like that. But before that we were on the field a little bit, we got to helmets that were about it. We were going over plays, branded workouts, and simple stuff like that."
"That was the idea for right now, everything is online, and trying to get to the local gym as much as we can. I always tried to help the younger guys and bring them in, I don’t like to say showing them the ropes but putting guys on to certain stuff and let them do their thing after that. It’s just good to have someone older than you just to see how you are doing and how you are adjusting to the team.”
What are some ways you’ve been adjusting to these times?
“To me not much of an adjustment, it’s just what it is right now, you have to do what you have to do but everything is temporary that’s how I look at it. It’s just online classes and just working out, there’s not much to it right now."
"The biggest adjustment probably is the mask, and not being able to do what you want to do outside of class and working out, just missing going out to eat and simple stuff like that. I live with my grandmother back home so having a high-risk person at home so means I have to be extra careful with what I do now but it’s not that much of an adjustment for me”
Talk about the value of work ethic.
“For me, work ethic is everything in terms of on the football field and getting to where I wanted to be. You can have all the talent in the world and no work ethic and you can have no talent in the world and all the worth ethic. It wasn’t like I was the most athletic when I was younger or the most talented guy, I mean I was a great football player and a great athlete but I wasn’t the best out there and I knew that at a young age."
"I worked my ass off to get what I wanted. I can say that work ethic is a big deal to me and to a lot of guys I surround myself with, I just think that’s how it should be and in the game of football that’s what you need. Life as well, I applied my work ethic in football and that’s how I got to where I’m at now.”
How’s your experience been in college?
“It’s always been a goal to play D1 ball, and when I had the opportunity to play at Marist I came and played. I started playing as a freshman, then got hurt sophomore year, I fractured my sternum coming around the corner. I actually ran over the safety though so you know that kinda balanced it out. I came around the corner, it was just a freak accident and I fractured my sternum."
"I honestly was worried about it, people kept coming up to me and saying all this but I was just like yeah it happened and it is what it is. So that happened then Junior year came around and I was starting, it was the fourth game in, then I have the MCL injury. It was the same thing I came back and now I feel like I’m 100% now."
"Going through all that at the same time was difficult because Marist is not the easiest school in the world. I can say I had some rough times here and there with family or whatever. So I can say it was a little bit difficult but I can’t say it was the worst, I had a good time I’m enjoying myself, I’m playing ball and I’m healthy now so nothing to really complain about now.”
What do you want to accomplish next season?
“Oh man, EVERYTHING! You got to leave it all out there, it’s the last season, it’s my senior season. Last year with the kids I came in with since freshman year, the seniors that were here when I was a freshman. Have to ball out for everyone, ball out for me."
"I’m not really the type to set goals but I just go out there and play football just gotta do what I gotta do. I just want to have the best season I’ve had at Marist college, go out with a bang and set myself up for life after Marist and stuff like that in terms of football and everything.”
What are some things that have helped your development over the years?
“Probably have to start out at the Dorchester Eagles football team, anyone who knows the Dorchester eagles in the Massachusetts area even the northeast area knows what was going on over there. Especially 6 to 10 years ago, that laid the foundation. I was just hungry, came up through middle school hungry, didn’t get a chance to play in 9th or 10th grade. I got the opportunity to play a Belmont High,"
"I was hungry, didn’t start my Junior year. I think that running back went to UPenn, he was a good running back, Max Jones that was my boy. I came in my senior year, I was snapping, no offers, 27 touchdowns plus 2,000 yards. Nothing. I was a hungry man, went to prep school, balled out there,"
"The coaches over there got me right. Then I got the opportunity to play at Marist, I had a couple of other opportunities and I chose Marist then came here freshman year and took off from here. “
How Many days do you train or workout?
“You know me, I’m always working, at one point it was 7 days a week. I had a lot of the older guys I train with and trainers tell me that I had to relax. But one point 7 days a week, 3-4 times a day, just not even taking naps in my bed because I didn’t have the strength to shower so I napped on the floor. I mean I loved it and still love it but it just comes with getting older, I never thought I would say that."
"When I was younger never thought about anything like that but you get older and you have to realize some things but I still go even now, when I’m back home in the summer probably go 5-6 days a week, at least 2 times a day and that’s that."
"I get my movement training in, my speed training in, and get whatever training I need to do because I know now with all these years I been doing this, I been doing it since I was 15 and I’m 22 now and learned some things. I have seen how things work and see how things don’t work, and I applied it to myself.”
What was your prep year like? Do you recommend it?
“I definitely recommend a prep year if you need to take it, especially when I was coming up in the Massachusetts area it was a little shaky the recruiting process but now it’s picking up a lot. I know guys going all over the country and stuff like that. Even with a lot of the smaller schools, it’s picking up more, guys were not even getting offers from like Nichols and stuff that I knew that could have been playing at schools."
"I recommend prep year for those who need it, eligibility wise, grades, or just another year of development if you didn’t get the starts you wanted, didn’t get the snaps you wanted if you didn’t get the recruitment or attention you wanted. If you know honestly you can do better, you know yourself you can do better than you did your senior year in high school and need an extra year to prove yourself then do it.”
How was your experience as a METCO guy?
“It was a different experience, I never really thought of it as a different experience at the time when I was in it. Sometimes I’m like damn, I was just away a lot. Blessed with the opportunity with my parents, my loved ones who took care of me and put me into positions to be where I’m at now, sacrifice what they had to do to put me in good schools and put me in good after school programs/situations where it turned out how it did."
"I was gone from kindergarten to sixth grade, I was going to school in Cambridge, so the only time I was really in Dorchester was playing football/ sports. I was going to the YMCA and stuff like that but to have that at a young age I thought that’s how it was and just how it is. It was always like that. Now I look back and I’m like wow I was blessed to get the opportunity’s that I was given by the ones who took care of me.”
Any advice for high school players that want to continue playing in college?
“I know everybody says it, the first thing everyone says and I’m going to say it too and I have been a culprit of it, still a culprit of it but the first thing is grades. Get the best grades you can, developed the best habit you can in high school so by the time you get to college, you have already developed those habits from like the 10th grade for 4 years."
"It’s the same thing as you developing your habits on the field, you come into college and do the same thing. You keep developing but you already have your foundation so you're not worried about scrambling trying to figure stuff out when you get there freshman year. Then whatever is important to you outside of football, you know everyone always says football but it’s the things outside of football as well."
"Just making sure to take care of yourself, take care of your family and you know focusing on what’s important to you. Everyone is going to be pulling you in different ways especially if you want to be an athlete Wherever you go to school. It’s going to be a lot and stressful no matter where you go. Make sure sometimes you prioritize yourself a little bit but I’m not saying be selfish and cocky but make sure your good at the same time.”
Plans for after college? NFL?
“I want to play professional football, that’s my first thing, you know I been working at it since I was like 7. I gotta do what I got to do to get myself in the position, the best position possible to be able to do that. Then That’s that, I’m a business major so I have a couple of different ideas in that aspect of things that I can do. I would call that more my plan B but like I said before I don’t really make goals or plans but that’s what I’m focusing on right now. That’s what I want to do I’m going to try to do it.”
“Right now my big hobby is day trading and working out if that’s outside of football. Also, just different ways to get money, I think that’s on everyone’s mind but definitely trying to make money.”