Japan: Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers re-sign WR/PR Robert Johnson

The Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers in Japan’s XLeague have re-signed wide receiver Robert Johnson (Mississippi State)  for the 2019 season.

The 6’2″, 212 lb native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, spent the 2018 season with the Challengers and recorded 21 receptions for 407 yards and six touchdowns. He also added a punt return touchdown. In 2017, he played for the Marburg Mercenaries of the German Football League when he caught 59 passes for 801 yards and four touchdowns. He was also the second-leading kick and punt returner for Marburg that season. At Mississippi State, he started 27 of 46 games for the Bulldogs in his four year career. In his senior season in 2014, he started all 13 games catching 14 passes for 227 yards from quarterback Dak Prescott, now starting for the Dallas Cowboys. That season Mississippi State was ranked number one for a time in the polls for the first time in their history and ultimately finished with a 10-2 record in the SEC.

AFI: What was the key for returning to Japan and the Challengers?

Johnson: The key to returning to Japan was the trust and bond I had with my teammates and coaching staff. With me spending English and in a very known southern accent, they worked with trying to understand me and why I do things l.

AFI: How would you compare football in Japan and Europe/Germany?

Johnson: Football is more practiced and played in Japan as there is High School and College football there as well. Although Football in Europe is to growing at a rapid fast pace and with me playing in Europe in 2017 I think and a lot of GFL coaches could agree the talent level has gotten tremendously better the past 10 years. But to compare I would go with japan. Love how coaches and staff come to America and visit different colleges gaining knowledge from coaches going back to teach to the team.

Photo: Inside Sport Japan

AFI: How much of a cultural difference is there?

Johnson: The cultural difference by far is the toughest with everything being such smaller such as my apartment. I must admit I got annoyed from hitting my head on the door panel to my room, because of me forgetting to lower my head. Haha.

AFI: How much longer can you consider playing overseas? That question there is pretty much unknown (n/a)

AFI: Would you like to try playing in other countries after this?

Johnson: If a better opportunity presents itself, I’m more than welcome, but japan has had great history and it’s continuing to have success and I would most definitely want to help fulfill that void .

AFI: Any favorite foods?

Johnson: One of my favorite places was a establishment called Grilled Beef Goen Amagasaki a Korean barbecue setting and can put on the grill right in front of you , also sushi is always a must have when your in japan. I’m real big on rice and ramen couldn’t tell you how much rice I consumed my entire time there in 2018.

AFI: What do you bring to the Challengers?

I far most want to be coach able more than anything. I bring big play ability when the ball is in my hand. I’m very versatile playing Wide Receiver, Running Back, Quarterback, Kick Return, and punt return last season for the challengers in the 2018 season.

AFI: What did you do after leaving Mississippi State?

Johnson: My two years from departing from college I didn’t get a invite for training camp, but go the opportunity to play in the FXFL which was a developmental football league based in Brooklyn, New York for the Florida Black Tips. Our games were played in MCU park in Coney Island. Our games were televised on ESPN 2 and was a great opportunity to play football in the fall and that was the start of my journey. I did pro day the second year around and did well, ended up getting two private workouts with my former quarterback Dak Prescott with the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals. Later that April I got a call to play arena football in the IFL for the Nebraska Danger where I played for the remainder of the spring.

AFI: What were your best moments playing in college?

Johnson: Some of the best moments playing college football as you might know I could speak on numerous occasions and moments but what I’ll miss the most is the food prepared for us on Fridays at the team hotel whether we are playing home or away. The food always put me in a happy place and i knew I was going to get a good night’s rest. Although by far the best moment I had there was my senior year shocking the world and being ranked #1 for 8 weeks straight which has never been done in Mississippi State history left out as the winningest senior class ever in school history as well as 5 straight bowl appearances with a 3-2 bowl record.

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