Everything you need to know about Chargers’ new starting guard

Sion Johnson he spent most of his first full day as an NFL player in a place he had never been before: Southern California.

The Chargers’ 2022 first-round pick grew in Maryland and attended school at Davidson and Boston College before being selected 17th overall in the NFL draft on Thursday.

On Friday, Johnson went to meet his new team in person and answer questions from local media.

“When I was driving from LAX, I was like, ‘It almost looks like Los Angeles on TV with palm trees,'” he said. “There’s a certain lighting … it’s like this vibe … I don’t know how to explain it, but it looks like Los Angeles on TV, like one of the cop shows.”

Highlights from Johnson’s first face-to-face session with reporters covering the Chargers:

Humble first steps: Johnson never played soccer until his freshman year at Riverdale Baptist School in Upper Marlboro. Instead, he was a member of the school’s golf team, having learned the sport after trying it on a summer camp.

The first person who suggested he might be good at football was the driver of a bus Johnson drove home after golf practice. But he wasn’t the most instrumental in launching Johnson’s career.

“It was really my mom who pushed me to play,” Johnson said. “She always taught Me that you should try things so you don’t have regrets later in life. I’m happy to have tried football because it would certainly be a regret I had ”.

Tammie Edwards played basketball at Virginia Tech, where she was a record-breaking rebounder as a center and forward. Johnson said her mother was her most influential person in her life, noting her work ethic.

“Many of the qualities he taught me,” he said, “made me the person I am today.”

Asked if she also inherited her athletic abilities from her mother, Johnson smiled and said, “I think most of it comes from her. She was definitely a force in the post.

Zion Johnson of Boston College in the media room after being chosen by the Chargers.

Boston College’s Zion Johnson poses in the media room after being chosen by the Chargers, who will begin him as a right guard.

(Doug Benc / Associated Press)

From undersize to big time: When he started playing soccer, Johnson said he was a 225-pound right tackle. He today he’s a 6 foot-3 314 pound right guard.

“Undersized is an understatement,” he said. “Our team played Chase Young. It wasn’t like we were playing scrub or anything. “

Young, who went to DeMatha Catholic, was No. 2 overall choice of the 2020 draft, selected by Washington. He did the Pro Bowl as a rookie defender.

“Really for me at that point, I wanted to play football, I wanted to show that I could be a good player,” Johnson recalled of his debut in the sport. “Being underpowered, I just had to force every play and try not to give up a lot.”

She said Chargers trainer Brandon Staley: “It’s one of those great stories about a guy who really worked on it, really developed his game. He worked on it, and here he is today. “

One of Johnson’s high school teammates was offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw, who was No. 23 overall pick from Minnesota last year.

“He’s definitely someone who has pushed me throughout my career with his level of play,” Johnson said of Darrisaw. “I’ve always wanted to outdo him, a bit like a rival”.

The road to BC: As a strong student, Johnson came to Davidson, where he played for two seasons on a partial scholarship before money became an issue.

“There was a financial strain on my family that I didn’t want to happen again,” Johnson said.

So he entered the transfer portal and ended up at Boston College, he explained, because he liked the school’s academics and the history of the offensive lineman development football program.

In three seasons with the Eagles, Johnson went from being a good story of perseverance to the fifth offensive lineman selected on Thursday.

Man of many languages: Johnson received his BS in computer science from Boston College in 2020 and earned his master’s in cyber security last fall.

He said he does computer programming “in my spare time” and has coded in at least six languages.

“When you learn a language, it’s not that hard to learn a new one,” he said, “because there are a lot of similarities and things you can grasp after learning the first one.”

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