HUNTSVILLE — As if fans did not have enough of a reason to attend Friday's game at Scott High, with the Highlanders coming off a record-tying, 61-0 win over McCreary Central and a chance to start 2-0 for the first time since 2010, a special guest will be on-hand for the game against Cumberland County.
Inky Johnson, former University of Tennessee football player turned motivational speaker, will be on hand for the game, visiting with players before the game and signing autographs at halftime.
Johnson, a former cornerback for the Vols who suffered a career-ending injury and turned his misfortune into a message of inspiration for others, will spend the evening at Scott High School.
According to school officials, Johnson will speak to each of Scott County's middle school football teams before joining the high school team for their pregame meal and other pregame rituals. At halftime, Johnson will sign autographs for fans.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Johnson was considered an NFL prospect as he began his junior season at Tennessee in 2006. However, he suffered a devastating shoulder injury against Air Force early in the season. A collision with an opposing player ruptured an artery in his chest, turning what was first thought to be a stinger into a life-threatening injury. Johnson's arm was permanently paralyzed by the collision.
Growing up in poverty, Johnson considered football his avenue for a successful life. His misfortune did not deter him, however. He often quotes Jeremiah 29:11 — "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" — and wrote a book (Inky Johnson: An Amazing Story of Faith and Perseverance) detailing his experiences.
Former Tennessee all-American Eric Berry is close friends with Johnson, and wears Johnson's former number — 29 — for the Kansas City Chiefs in honor of his friend.