“He’s the total package”: Running back coach Jabbar Juluke talks Montrell Johnson

Florida’s leading rusher over the last two years is back in Gainesville for his senior season. In his collegiate career, Montrell Johnson has accumulated 2,496 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns, eclipsing 800+ rushing yards in each of his three seasons.

“For a young man to be able to play three years of college football, to have the production he has as a part-time rusher, leading runner, right? He split the backfield for three years. Just think if he was getting more carries, what he’d do,” running backs coach Jabbar Juluke told the media on Thursday.

The consistency you see from Johnson doesn’t just show up on the gridiron, but on the practice field and within his character.

“He practices every day the right way and he plays hard and he’s consistent and he could’ve left and went to the NFL or another school but he chose to be here because of our relationship and how we’ve been together for a long time and he loves this university,” Juluke said on Johnson.

Juluke and Johnson have a special relationship having worked together for the past four years, starting with the recruitment process at Louisiana. In an emotional press conference, Juluke provides insight on who Johnson is off the football field.

“Montrell Johnson is the guy you want to date your daughter,” Juluke said on Johnson. “He’s going to be respectful, he’s going to be kind, he’s going to be a protector, he’s going to be a provider. It means something to him. Football means something to him. Where he comes from — Montrell has a story that’s going to be told for a long time. We’ve been together four years now. Montrell Johnson is a very unique person.”

Johnson, who was not pleased with his 2023 season, still averaged 5.4 yards per carry while ranking 7th in the SEC in yards after contact average (3.30) and broken tackle rate (35.53%) among running backs in the conference, according to SEC Stat Cat. Johnson has also done a remarkable job of taking care of the football, losing just two fumbles across 517 touches in his career.

“I think Montrell might have two fumbles in his entire career, one at UL and one here, and that was the first game of the season against Utah when he first got to The Swamp,” Juluke said on what Johnson brings to the table. “Other than that, he takes care of the football, he’s good in pass protection, catches the ball out of the backfield. He’s 6-foot, 215 pounds. He’s a physical runner in between the tackles and he’s a lot faster than you would think he is. So I’m excited about what he’s going to be able to do on the football field, same as what he’s been doing his entire career.”

Johnson is tasked with much more than leading the Gators’ backfield for the third consecutive season in 2024. With two freshmen running backs added to the roster and a sophomore in Treyaun Webb backing him up, Johnson most serve as the mentor of the group, paving the way for the future of Florida’s running back room.

“I’m excited about what he’s going to be able to do as a leader,” Juluke said. “Montrell is the ultimate pro, right? He works hard, he practices the right way. He’s being a leader, he’s been a mentor. He’s given the young men a great example of what it’s supposed to look like. And we don’t worry about what’s going on outside man. I just think that he’s going to continue to grow and continue to be the consistent player that he’s been his entire career.”

With 1,129 snaps in his collegiate career, the experience Johnson brings to the unit does not fly under the radar.

“Very important,” Juluke said on how critical it was to get Johnson back for a 4th season. “He’s experienced and you cannot underestimate experience playing football. You cannot underestimate the knowledge that he has in this offense. You can’t underestimate the value of him being able to catch the ball out of the backfield and play on third down in pass protection or run in between the tackles or outside. He’s just a complete back.”

“He’s the total package and now he’s being a mentor, he’s being a leader,” Juluke added. “He’s sitting next to Jaden Baugh and making sure that they understand what needs to happen. He’s to the left and to the right is Kahnen [Daniels]. They sit right there next to him and when I say write something down, he’s making sure that they’re writing it down the correct way and sharing his notes with them and teaching them how to take notes, how to be prepared, how to be the first one in the training room, how to take care of your body to prevent injuries. He’s the ultimate player, man, and I think he’s going to leave here as one of the best backs to play at the University of Florida when it’s all said and done.”

Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.