That effort gave his Kennedy Award status a shot in the arm, as he finished second in the voting as the state's top player to GW All-America running back Ryan Switzer, a North Carolina recruit. Clinton also wound up earning a first-team AAA all-state spot as an offensive utility player.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Johnson, GW's second-leading tackler during his senior season, said the Patriots learned some valuable lessons trying to corral Clinton in last year's playoffs. Perhaps those lessons will help in defending the Martinsburg QB on Saturday.
Other George Washington players suiting up for the South this week are defensive end-center Sam Plantz (6-0, 200) and linebacker-offensive lineman Jacob Whitlock (5-9, 200).
"You've got to keep him inside the pocket,'' Johnson said of Clinton. "Don't let him get outside the pocket. Keep contain on him. If you keep contain on him, he can't get outside the pocket. That's what we're trying to do.''
Johnson, who played mostly linebacker at GW, expects to split time at that position and strong safety in Saturday's game. Last year with the Patriots, Johnson was credited with 123 total tackles, including 36 solo and 81/2 for lost yardage.
He hopes Saturday's game won't be his last on the gridiron, as he plans to walk on to the squad at West Virginia as a strong safety later this year, and expects to report to preseason drills in Morgantown on Aug. 18.
For now, though, he's savoring every moment of his North-South experience, including the weeklong training camp at West Virginia State University in Institute.
"It's a great honor,'' Johnson said. "It's a dream come true. I've always wanted to play in the North-South game. It's a great thing to do - representing my team and representing my state.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.