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South squad’s Nico Johnson (35) tackles North squad’s Kenjon Barner during the second quarter Saturday at the 2013 Senior Bowl in Mobile. Johnson finished the game with four tackles (3 solo, 1 assist) in South’s 21-16 victory over the North. During the game, Johnson served as defensive and team captain for the South squad. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

LEADER AMONG MEN

Published 12:04am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nico Johnson’s style of play and leadership on the field garnered the former Alabama linebacker four tackles in Saturday’s 2013 Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile.

The Andalusia native comfortably fit right in on South squad’s defense as he played at his normal middle or mike linebacker position.

Johnson was selected as a team captain for the pre-game coin toss at the annual showdown, where the nation’s top senior student-athletes show off their talent in front of NFL coaches and scouts.

Johnson got two tackles in the first half and added one solo and one assist in the second half in the South’s 21-16 victory over the North Squad.

Tom Causey, who coached Johnson during his freshman and sophomore years at Andalusia High School, said his former player played well.

“I know he had a bunch of tackles, and I think he did some things the NFL wanted to see him do,” Causey said. “I thought he played well.”

During the week leading up to the game, players from both squads participate in bowl activities, from charity functions to banquets to autograph signings.

Causey said he was impressed at how well Johnson adapted to what the NFL coaches were teaching.

“He did exceptionally well to learn and get on the field, having to play with different people,” Causey said. “He represented his community and state really, really well, which he’s always done.”

Johnson got his first two solo tackles within the last 2:27 of the second quarter on North Squad running back Kenjon Barner of Oregon. His third solo tackle came with more than 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Causey said Johnson’s leadership was also evident on the field.

“That goes along with his personality,” he said. “He’s a natural leader. You’re always seeing Nico with somebody on the field, whether it’s on a tackle he made or when he’s not on the play. He’s always congratulating them.

“It’s not about him,” he said. “I think that’s how he was raised.”

Johnson served as team and defensive captain for the South squad.

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