The sun-splashed, late February afternoon in Scottsdale is a far cry from the harsh winter conditions in Ann Arbor, Michigan but for former Pinnacle High School star quarterback J.D. Johnson, life hasn’t followed script the last several months.
The personable 6-foot-5 young man with a rocket arm is carrying around golf bags now instead of shoulder pads. After a childhood heart condition prematurely ended not only his prep career, but his entire football future moving forward, Johnson was looking for a job after graduating early from Pinnacle in December.
He found one at TPC Scottsdale, just minutes from his house, thanks to an old friend who’s also a familiar name in the quarterback world.
“I got the opportunity to work at this golf course from Jack Miller’s dad, his name is also Jack Miller,” Johnson explained to Sports360AZ.com. “He hooked me up with the head pro over here so it was pretty cool how that got going.”
Johnson, who works either the morning (5:30AM-12:30PM) or afternoon (11:00AM-7:30PM) shift, assists golfers with their bags, cleans carts, double-checks tee times for guests and generally just enjoys being outside in arguably the best time here in the Valley.
“It makes sense,” Pinnacle head coach Dana Zupke said with a smile to Sports360AZ.com. “I know J.D. is an avid golfer prior to this…and I know he’s pretty good at it. I don’t know what it is about quarterbacks and golf but [they] seem to go hand-in-hand.”
Johnson will still be attending Michigan over the coming years and will be assisting with the football program in various capacities under head coach Jim Harbaugh who honored his full-ride scholarship. He hopes to one day become a coach like his father.
“I’m kind of glad I’m not in school right now,” he said with a grin. “Obviously, I wish I was up in Michigan…I know God has a plan for me. If I just keep on the path, everything’s going to work out.”
Johnson leaves behind a unique legacy at Pinnacle.
One which will never be forgotten by Zupke who coached him since the eighth grade.
“What I’ll always appreciate about J.D.,” he said. “He was always dialed in at practice. Always focused, always trying to get better…it wasn’t just about him. He knew what he meant to our team and our team’s success on that side of the ball.”
It’s safe to say Johnson will still have success in football, even without taking another snap.