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Nebraska native Keagan Johnson to return to Memorial Stadium in black and gold

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 12:10 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The last time Bellevue, Neb. native Keegan Johnson played inside Memorial Stadium, he rushed for 81 yards, caught eight passes for 132 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead the Thunderbirds to a state championship.

Friday he’ll make his return, but this time he’ll be donning black and gold as Iowa is set to take on Nebraska in the ‘Heroes Game.’ For Johnson, it means going up against a team he used to root for and his dad, Clester Johnson, won two national titles with in the early 90′s.

“That’s kind of one thing that I’m trying to think about is just taking it all in,” said Johnson. “I think it will be a surreal experience because I’ve spent a lot of time in that stadium just being a fan and a spectator. Obviously with a father that played there, I got back to a few games growing up, so just taking it all in, but making sure that I don’t forget the reason I’m there.”

Through 11 games, the true freshman has tallied 16 receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns. The 328 yards are the most among Iowa wide receivers. As he prepares to make his return to what will feel like a hometown crowd, he’s focused on taking care business as the Hawkeyes still have a shot at the Big Ten West title.

“We’ve got a big opportunity in front of us and I think the key is just making sure we don’t overlook any weeks. We’re almost at the finish line. There’s been bumps and bruises along the road, but just keep making sure we keep fighting - knowing that there’s not a whole lot of time left,” said Johnson.

That doesn’t mean he hasn’t answered a few additional ticket requests this week.

“We got a lot,” Johnson said about ticket requests. “ Probably can’t get tickets for everyone that’s asked for tickets, but I try to do my best. I’ll probably have a lot of family there.”

As recruit who picked Iowa over Nebraska, Johnson is having quite the start to his career. Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz believes he’s the type of player who can handle the extra noise.

“He just seems to go out and he’s the same way practice, just concentrates on what he’s doing and that’s the best advice anybody can give him right now. It’s just play the game. It’s it’s another game. It’s a big game, but it’s another game and just do your job like you’ve been doing,” said Ferentz.

His family ties may be aligned with the Huskers, but Johnson hopes this homecoming hands the Hawkeyes their seventh straight victory in this rivalry game.

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