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When rookies arrive in the NFL, they will don a random number that’s available or a number they wore in college. But for some, there’s meaning behind the number on their jerseys.
For Chargers’ first-round pick Zion Johnson, the No. 77 reflects a player he looked up to, Cowboys All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith.
Johnson started playing football his junior year of high school and resorted to YouTube, where he found clips of Smith.
“I don’t think he got beat once,” Johnson said about Smith’s performance against the Cowboys’ pass rush at their training camp, per ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry. “He was just awesome.”
The tips Johnson picked up from watching Smith has translated to his game.
Over three seasons at Boston College, Johnson allowed just three sacks, nine quarterback hits, and 24 quarterback hurries on 1,074 pass-blocking snaps.
At training camp, Johnson has been making a smooth transition to the NFL, where he has held his own in pass protection with his outstanding combination of power, smarts, and agility.