Johnson era begins at Chowan University

Published 5:02 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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MURFREESBORO – The future of Chowan University’s storied football program is now in the hands of Paul Johnson.

Johnson was formally introduced as the ninth head coach in the modern-day history of Chowan football during a press conference held here Thursday afternoon in the Pond Football Center.

Johnson comes to Murfreesboro from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania where he served as the Offensive Coordinator along with coaching the Tight Ends and Wide Receivers for the past two seasons. Prior to his stint with the Huskies, Johnson spent a decade (2011-2021) at the University of Charleston in West Virginia. There, Johnson served as the Run Game Coordinator and Offensive Line coach for the first six seasons. In 2017, Johnson was promoted to Offensive Coordinator.

Prior to his time at Charleston, Johnson served as a Graduate Assistant at Marshall University and West Virginia University.

“First of all I want to thank God. He provided me with this purpose in life. Football has always been the vehicle I use to impact lives. I’m excited to be here at Chowan University,” said the Hawks new head coach.

“My interview process here was a first-class experience,” he added. “That’s what made me feel comfortable. I knew this was the place for me because of the people. Everyone I’ve interacted with thus far has been incredible. I’m so thankful to be at such a great institution that really cares about its football program.”

Johnson said he has already met with the players.

Newly hired Chowan University head football coach Paul Johnson answers questions during Thursday’s press conference held at the Pond Football Center on the school’s campus. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

“I liked their passion,” he said. “I know we’re in a period of transition, but to those that stayed I’m looking forward in moving this program forward with them.

“The primary function of this football program will be to produce great husbands, great fathers, great student-athletes here and in the community as well as highly successful students in their profession,” Johnson stressed.

Chowan President Dr. Kirk Peterson welcomed Johnson to the campus.

“We have great plans for the football program and we’re excited to see your leadership and work with these young men,” Peterson said. “After speaking with coach Johnson, I expect this winning mentality and positive momentum will continue through next year.

Peterson noted that nearly 100 individuals expressed an interest in becoming Chowan’s new football coach.

“Paul, you won the day because of your poise, your insatiable appetite to teach our young men to be better on and off the field, and your obvious leadership capabilities,” Dr. Peterson exclaimed. “Coach, we are handing over 130 players to your care. We want you to be and I believe the team wants you to be a demanding, consistent disciplinarian and supportive coach who is a winner. I challenge you to provide that for them. I want our student-athletes to become better people because of their interaction with their coaches, with their professors, and with the staff at Chowan.”

Pat Mashuda, Chowan’s Vice President for Athletics, said the process of selecting the university’s head football coach was finally narrowed to three finalists.

“Each bought unique characteristics, but at the end of the day, coach Johnson won the day,” Mashuda said.

Chowan’s new coach answered several questions posed by this newspaper, saying Murfreesboro appealed to him because of its small town charm.

“I’m from a small town in West Virginia. I’m excited about coming to a private university. I like the environment. The educational opportunities provided here are incredible,” Johnson said.

He was asked about finally getting the opportunity to become a head football coach after spending his career, up to this point, as an assistant.

“It’s been a long time coming; I’ve been working at this,” Johnson noted, adding that he has been blessed to work with other coaches along his career path that had a hand in teaching him to how to run a successful football program. In particular, he signaled out the now late Bill Stewart, former head coach at West Virginia University, who gave him his first opportunity to coach.

From a scheme standpoint, Johnson said Chowan football fans can expect to see “an up tempo, fast paced offense…one that gets everybody involved and have the opportunity to showcase their talent. Defensively, we’re going to be physical, fast; I want to blitz. Special teams will be an very integral part as well.”

Johnson added that he is currently in the process of putting his coaching staff together.

As for recruiting, Johnson said he prefers getting to “know the whole person, not just the athlete.”

“I use four points of contact: we’ll have kids here in camp or go to see them in camps and evaluate them; then we will bring the student-athlete and their family on campus to better get acquainted; then bring them in for a game day visit; and finally bring them back for an official visit,” he said. “By that time I should know if the young man is a good fit for our program.”

The Parkersburg, West Virginia native played collegiately at Ohio University under Frank Solich. Johnson was a three-year starter at left guard and helped the Bobcats to their first bowl appearance since 1966 appearing in the GMAC Bowl in 2007.

Johnson received his Bachelors degree in Recreation Management from Ohio in 2008 and received his Masters from West Virginia in Athletic Coaching Education in 2010.

He and his wife, Kristina, have a daughter, Bradleigh, and son, Kyran.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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