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nice article on the next generation of Buckeyes :osu:



Buckeyes follow famous fathers’ steps
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Ken Gordon

His son was just 10 years old when Thomas Johnson learned an important lesson.

Johnson had called the coach of son Dionte’s little-league football team to see if he could drop by and watch practice. When he arrived, "somebody had called the TV stations, and there were cameras all over," Thomas said.

Thomas, see, is better known around Columbus as "Pepper," a former Ohio State All-American linebacker.

With the lights and cameras all around, poor Dionte "couldn’t even concentrate on a simple tackling drill," Pepper said.

So since that day, if Pepper wanted to watch Dionte, he was careful to slip into the stands only occasionally and always unannounced.

"But that was a blessing in disguise," Pepper said of the original experience. "(Dionte) learned from a young age he would have to step out of my shadow and be more than ‘Pepper Johnson’s kid.’ "

Dionte, a fullback and an Eastmoor graduate, didn’t make it any easier on himself by choosing to play at Ohio State, where he arrived last week for the start of his freshman preseason camp.

He was joined by freshman cornerback Shaun Lane, son of Garcia Lane, another former Buckeyes standout.

Johnson and Lane came to Ohio State aware that they would be subject to increased scrutiny and expectations based on their bloodlines.

"It’s a little pressure," Lane said. "You are expected to be as good as him. They expect me to return two punts for touchdowns in games."

Both players said they felt more pride than pressure at the accomplishments of their fathers.

"It was a great feeling because you come in the hallways, you see pictures of your dad," Dionte Johnson said. "But at the same time you also know you’ve got to work that much harder because everybody is looking for you to be just like your father."

Lane, too, mentioned seeing his father’s picture on the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. He said he and his dad have a running argument over who is the better athlete.

"He always says he’s the best Lane," Shaun said, smiling. "He says he’s faster than me. He still thinks he can beat me now, but I don’t see that happening."

Shaun said Garcia keeps ducking a head-tohead footrace. Shaun was asked how he’ll ever know if he is superior to his father.

"I’ll be in a lot more than one picture (on the walls), hopefully," he said.

Tight end/fullback Stan White Jr. is well-suited to give Johnson and Lane advice. This is his third season living with the name of another former Buckeyes great: his father, Stan White.

Because his father’s career ended in 1971, compared with 1983 for Garcia Lane and 1985 for Pepper Johnson, "only people who have been around town long enough remember the name," White Jr. said.

"There’s obviously some expectations I think people have for you," he said, "but in the end, you’ve just got to be the best player you can be."

Pepper Johnson, now proud owner of two Super Bowl rings as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots, once again will watch from afar.

He said he has a TiVo system and has purchased ESPN’s College Gameday package.

But that didn’t stop him from wanting more personal contact with Dionte. He knows his son is swamped right now with the rigors of preseason two-a-days, but with mock hurt in his voice, he said, "Tell him I’m waiting for his call. Tell him to check his messages."

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