‘Simple’ man plays through media hype

Dartangan Johnson, junior health promotion and wellness major, transferred to Southern from Santa Ana (Calif.) College.

Dartangan Johnson, junior health promotion and wellness major, transferred to Southern from Santa Ana (Calif.) College.

Behind all the talk and reputation of athletic achievement, Dartangan Johnson views himself as “simple.”

Johnson, junior health promotion and wellness major and running back was recruited in the spring of 2005 to join the Southern football program.

He transferred from Santa Ana (Calif.) College after being presented with an opportunity from acting head football coach Keeth Matheny.

Matheny said he thought Johnson was a complete package and fit in well with everyone.

Constant stories written, news coverage and even chat rooms devoted to a person’s athletic expectations and abilities is enough to create a big ego, but Johnson said he takes it all in stride.

“I try not to pay attention to it,” Johnson said. “I didn’t really try to live up to those expectations because I know that I’ll do what I do once I get to playing.”

Since his arrival, he has been described by some of his teammates and coaches as a “good guy.”

“He’s always easy to talk to,” said Grant Voss, freshman undecided major. “He’s a good role model.”

Elliot Ginn, sophomore kinesiology major, said he had his thoughts of what his teammate would be like because of his status.

“I thought he’d be like Billy Bad Ass or something, but he’s not.” Ginn said. “He’s one of those people who you don’t know until you meet him, and he’s a really good friend.”

Johnson, an Orange County, Calif. native, said he did have to adjust to coming to a small town and leaving his family and his girlfriend.

While Johnson said he misses the city life, he noticed a positive distinction about Joplin.

“The people out here actually take out time to talk to you more than they do in California,” he said.

Since his arrival, Johnson said everyone has made him feel welcome, but he does not necessarily need to be the center of attention.

“I’m not one for a big crowd,” Johnson said.

Off the field and out of the classroom, Johnson said he mainly likes to read and play video games.

“Madden’s my favorite,” he said.

Johnson’s main interest in college is physical therapy, which came after he had an injury he sustained during his freshman year. He eventually had to work with a physical therapist of his own.

“I broke my right leg, and that was a real down point in my life,” Johnson said.

Through the process, Johnson said he began to see the importance with working with athletes as his therapist helped him get back on his feet.

“I would like to leave the impact she had on me,” he said.

As far as dreams for the future, Johnson said he hopes for success.

“If I could write out my future, I would like to see myself in the NFL, with my family and be happy,” he said.

In the future, Matheny expects Johnson to come into his own and continually posess as many off-field strengths as he has on field.

“He’s articulate; he’s grounded; he’s positive,” Matheny said. “He’s just a sincere person.”