California dreaming

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 7, 2010

A year ago, Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson’s family was part of a crowd of several thousand people at Andalusia High School football games.

Tonight, they will be among the more than 106,000 spectators at the Rose Bowl in sunny Pasadena, Calif., to witness the 2010 Citi BCS National Championship game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Texas at 7 p.m.

Johnson, a former AHS standout and Alabama true freshman, will be fulfilling a lifelong dream tonight.

“To come straight out of high school and going to the national championship as a freshman is a dream come true,” Nico Johnson told the Dothan Eagle. “I didn’t think as a freshman I’d get to play much this year. The defense is really hard. It’s an NFL defense. I took it upon myself to learn the defense, watch film every day, try to learn as much as I can every day from Rolando (McClain) and Dont’a (Hightower).”

Johnson’s family arrived in California on Sunday and Michael, Nico’s brother, said it’s been a good trip.

“We’re all together and we’re just going to get up and go out there sometime in the morning over to Pasadena,” he said about the family’s plans today.

Michael said Nico is handling everything well leading up to the big game tonight.

“He is excited about the game,” Michael said. “He is focused and you can’t get a whole lot out of him. Right now, we’ll just have to wait and play it by ear and see what happens.”

The Johnson family will return to Andalusia on Friday.