Montville - Brandon Johnson's track coach, Tim Egan, likes to tell the story about the first dual meet this season he made Johnson run the 110-meter high hurdles and the 100 dash consecutively. Johnson threw up.
"He's built like Adonis. And I'm in better shape than him," Egan said with a laugh.
That's Brandon Johnson, Montville High School's 6-foot-3, 190-pound all-state wide receiver in football.
Who recently gave a verbal commitment to play football next season at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass., along with his good friend Kenny Strecker, also of Montville.
Who was named the top male athlete in the Class of 2012.
"If you ask the kids he played with, and we have a great baseball program and a great group of seniors at our school," Montville football coach Tanner Grove was saying this week, "there's nothing (Johnson) can't do. He can run and jump and throw.
"Football-wise this year he had to replace (Tyler) Girard-Floyd and (Skyler) McNair and his brother Bobby (Johnson). He had to try to be that guy and he did a great job. His close friend Kenny Strecker is near and dear to my heart, a blue-collar athlete, who would go to the death to win at checkers, but Brandon rolls out of bed and he can beat you in the 40."
While many of his friends and fellow star athletes go from the football field to play for the state championship baseball team in the spring, including Strecker, Johnson, however, competes in track and field.
He is the reigning Eastern Connecticut Conference champion in the 110 hurdles in 15.17 seconds and is constantly bettering his own school record in the event, paring it down to a hand-timed 14.6 seconds during a dual meet this season against Ledyard (converted to 14.84 seconds electronically).
He was third in Class M last year in the hurdles in 15.52.
Johnson will defend his hurdles title Saturday at the ECC championship meet at Fitch High School, beginning at 10 a.m. Johnson will also long jump and run the 200 meters.
In the dual meet with Ledyard, April 24, Johnson won the hurdles (14.6), 100 (11.2), 200 (23.0) and long jump (20 feet, 1 inch). In a tight meet, Ledyard topped the Indians 81-69. Johnson appeared to be done when Egan called on him to run the 200.
"He's a quiet kid. He doesn't go around beating his chest," Egan said. "But you know that when I needed him to win that 200, he could win that 200. ... He ran 14.6 in the hurdles. he could go as low as 14.0. That's exceptional.
"I hurdled in high school and I could always hold it over his head that I ran a 15.0. 'You're still not quite as good as I am.' I can't do that anymore."
Johnson is rooted deeply in his family, one of four sons of Nancy and Robert Johnson Sr.
Bobby, last year's Class M 100 and 200 champion who went on to finish second in the 200 at the State Open, is a wide receiver at Division I-AA Sacred Heart University. Meanwhile, Brian, a freshman, is into music, and 13-year-old Bradley is a sprinter like his older brothers - "the next Usain Bolt," Johnson said.
Johnson bears a tattoo on his left arm of what he calls a "tribal" design, something he drew in art class - "tribal," as in family. It covers his entire triceps and extends under his track singlet ... to his heart.
That's why it was important to Johnson to get the final seal of approval from his mom on a recent recruiting visit to Western New England, before he could join Strecker in playing for the Golden Bears.
"I definitely committed," Johnson said. "Before I left I told the coach, 'I'm definitely going to come here.' It's a big weight off my shoulder.
"The size is good; it wasn't too big. The cleanliness was good. The food was really good; we ate at the cafeteria there. It was a really good day."
Johnson's competitive with his brother Bobby.
"I always try to beat what he did, get better stats than him," Johnson said. "It depends. I could definitely one-up him if we ran the hurdles, but if it was the 100, he could run a ridiculous time."
One thing that strikes Grove about Johnson is his humility. For instance: at one football practice, Grove tried to tinker with adding a double-pass to the playbook, with Johnson ultimately serving as the passer.
"It was the worst, most hideous thing," Grove said. "He's an all-state wide receiver, but he said, 'Don't ever ask me to throw a pass again.' He's comfortable in his own skin. I think that says a lot about him. He can laugh at himself. It's refreshing.
"... I told coaches who asked about him, 'If you get this kid, it's a steal.'"
Grove said all Johnson wanted was to play in college someplace where he felt wanted. Western New England coach Keith Emery showed a great deal of interest, said Grove, who joked that Strecker, who had already committed to play for the Golden Bears, was Emery's "best assistant coach" in urging his friend to join him.
"I can't say enough," Grove said. "Brandon Johnson really separated himself as a football player for us. He was waiting to mature. He had to work for it. His junior year he believed he was ready, but I think he really understood that he wasn't quite there yet. This year it was evident."
Johnson originally tried to play baseball at Montville, but was still on junior varsity after two seasons, another thing he can laugh about now. While everyone else improved, he stayed the same, he said.
But having played football with Strecker since the youth level, the two will have a chance to share the same jersey again next season when football season rolls around.
"We've been playing together for a long time," Johnson said. "To take it to the next level and still play together, hopefully we'll have even more success at the collegiate level.
"I'm pretty excited."