The Many Roles of Malcolm Johnson


Senior Tight End Malcolm Johnson plays one of the most versatile positions in Dan Mullen’s offense….and he does it very well. He was named to the preseason and mid-season Mackey Award watch list. So far this year MoJo has 12 catches for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns.

While Johnson has been the main threat at TE for the last 2+ seasons, it’s not just him who is called upon to be so versatile. The Tight End position in Mullen’s offense is also a H-back, wide receiver and occasional fullback.

Let’s take a look at some of the different roles Malcolm has in the course of a ballgame…

This is the first play of the game for MSU’s offense vs. Kentucky. Malcolm is lined up as a traditional tight end. On this play he goes straight into a route without blocking the defensive end. It’s a curl route and Prescott hit him for a gain of six yards on first down.

After the above play where MoJo was lined up as the TE, he then lined up as a H-back on the strong side for the 2nd play (which he just blocked on a Josh Robinson seven yard carry for the first down). On the third play of the drive he lined up as a slot receiver on the right side in a 4-WR set….the ball was thrown to JRob out of the backfield for an 11 yard gain.

Now this next one is the 4th play of the drive. Malcolm is lined up as a H-back on the weak side (H-back is just a term for a player set back just behind the offensive line in the backfield – another way to position the tight end). His route is to come across the field almost like a running back screen.

It’s a play-action pass and Prescott sees right away that Johnson is uncovered and hits him in stride just beyond the line of scrimmage. Malcolm has a full head of steam and gains 15 yards on the play.

More play-action, this time Malcolm is lined up as a slot WR on the left side. He catches the ball for a 15 yard gain and first down. I broke down the play more here.

Of course, most of what Malcolm Johnson does as a TE is block. Whether it’s for the running game or the passing game. Here he is in yet another play-action pass situation, this time lined up as a H-back on the strong side, blocking the defensive end to give Dak more time to throw.

MoJo has also lined up as a fullback. You could just about play a “where’s Malcolm Johnson” on each play during a MSU football game. He has a lot of different roles and responsibilities. Look out for Gus Walley as well – he subs for Johnson and does the same thing.