Wide Receiver Johnny Holton
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Johnny Holton grew up in Miami, Florida, along with friend and fellow Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper. Holton attended Coconut Grove High School as a teenager, but wasn't focused on playing football. His priorities were elsewhere. As one of 11 children in his family, he focused on helping around the house, "By me working, I was just trying to make money to support my family," said Holton.
Holton put his family first, above his own personal desires, and felt obligated to contribute to his household. Although Holton was preoccupied with being a quality family member, he did enjoy playing flag football recreationally at a local park.
Holton's potential stood out to a college scout who happened to witness him play and offered him a chance to develop his talent at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Recently, Cooper talked about watching Holton play at the park and their relationship on 95.7 The Game and watching him play. "The park is right across the street from his house and there would always be flag football tournaments," said Cooper, "I would go out there and watch sometimes…there was a junior college coach watching him play and he was impressed."
During his time in Junior College, Holton helped his team get to eighth overall in the NJCAA rankings. He was also named to the First Team All-Midwest Football Conference back in 2012 and had 23 catches for 548 yards including eight touchdowns. From one stage to the next Holton continued to progress as a player.
Holton credits that part of what made him successful in college was his ability to make plays after the catch. "The games I played in I had a big impression, I was leading the nation with 27.1 yards per catch," Holton said. After playing College of DuPage for two years, he was swooped up by the University of Cincinnati. In both of his years spent with the Bearcats, he had five receiving touchdowns and could've had a 99-yard kick return touchdown had it not been called back due to a penalty.
Coming out of college as an undrafted free agent, Holton reached out to Cooper and asked for his advice on what he should do. "He just told me I'm good enough to play anywhere in the NFL, just look at my options," said Holton, "I decided I wanted to be close to him and thought I had an opportunity here [with the Raiders]."
So far through training camp, Holton has opened the eyes of his coaches and peers. He's flashed a lot of athleticism and speed, while making impressive plays. Holton is putting his best foot forward to try to join his friend Cooper in the receiving corps. With the Raiders first preseason game scheduled for tomorrow night against the Arizona Cardinals, Holton will have plenty of opportunities to show what he's capable of.
With the next chapter in Holton's story set to begin, he'll be an interesting player to watch going forward.