From the Sidelines: Lockett lives up to nickname at Sweet Water

Published 10:19 pm Wednesday, August 12, 2009

They call him “The Rocket.” His opponents know him as the guy they have to gameplan for. His teammates know him as Johnny.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association knows him as the guy that was a finalist for 1A Back of the Year as a junior.

The coaching staff at the University of South Alabama knows him as one of their Class of 2010 commits.

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On the field, he is lightning quick and untouchable in open space.

At practice, he is focused, dedicated and unflappable.

Sweet Water’s Johnny Lockett is surely everything a coach could want in a high school football player.

But none of that is what makes Johnny Lockett special. In fact, none of that even comes close to explaining the sum of who this young man really is.

As impossible as it is to not notice Johnny Lockett on the field, it is even more difficult to overlook him off of it.

That is an odd truth considering that he is quiet and unassuming, maintaining a low key demeanor that is contradictory to his on-field production and the statistical output he has amassed over his stunning Bulldog career.

He is level-headed and slow to speak, but somehow personifies cool in a way few teenagers ever fully grasp. But what makes Johnny Lockett so down to earth and easy to like is the simple fact that he is real. The kid is comfortable in his own skin in a way that many people never realize.

How does he achieve such a persona? It is hard to say. But, likely, it is because he gets it. His senior year just started Monday. Most his age are concerned with so many other things. But Lockett seems unfazed by questions about school and social life.

It isn’t apathy. His 3.8 GPA and stellar ACT score have already rebutted that argument.

Lockett is laid back because he is a big picture guy. It is a fact that evidences itself in everything the young man does.

Football? He has no idea how many rushing yards he has in his career. He doesn’t care how many he gets this season. It doesn’t matter if the ball goes to him or Chris Landrum or Jeremy Landrum or Michael Thompson. He just wants to win.

No Sweet Water team has ever beaten Thomasville three straight times. Lockett wants to be a part of that team. Bastrop (La.) is a nationally prominent program. Lockett wants to be part of the team that makes a statement and puts the Purple and Gold on the map.

He doesn’t care if it is blocking or receiving or carrying the ball, he just wants to do his part.

Academics? He has already sewn up a football scholarship and has tremendous standing in his graduating class. So he should be able to coast through his senior year right? Not Johnny.

He has accumulated seven hours of collegiate credit and is seeking way to co-op more hours through Alabama Southern in order to enter his first year of college with a minimum of a semester behind him.

Accomplishing that would mean that he can utilize his final year of eligibiity at South Alabama as a graduate student. More than the vast majority of players who ever step onto a field, Lockett understands how to let football be the vehicle that carries him to wherever it is he wants to go. While he isn’t certain where that may be right now, he is considering engineering. But, true to his form, Johnny is considering all of his options.

All things considered, it really is no wonder why they call him “The Rocket,” because, at the end of the day, it is hard to deny that Johnny Lockett is going somewhere and he is getting there fast.