New William Paterson University Football Coach, Dustin Johnson, Excited for Opportunity
Back on March 23, William Paterson University named Dustin Johnson as the new head football coach. For the past five years, Johnson was the defensive coordinator at Stevenson University. In 2016, the Mustangs won their first Middle Athletic Conference title. Johnson also was the defensive backs coach in 2010 and special teams coordinator in 2012.
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Johnson on the phone about becoming the new head football coach of the Pioneers.
Double G Sports: Congratulations Coach Johnson on being named the new William Paterson University Head Football Coach. What does this mean to you and your family?
Dustin Johnson: A very exciting time for my family and me. I’m looking forward to the opportunity and the William Paterson community has ben very receptive to my family and me and done a great job supporting me so far. My wife was ecstatic yet a little bit apprehensive because we had to pack up in a weekend to leave Baltimore. The nice thing is we have family up here in North Jersey. We’re moving in with the in-laws.
Double G Sports: What were your first impressions of the campus, football field and training facilities?
Dustin Johnson: I was blown away by the campus here at William Paterson and what it has to offer. Anytime you walk on a college campus and see construction that means things are happening here. There also have been several upgrades to our athletic facilities. Another encouraging sign we are moving in the right direction and a lot of growth right now. Almost an arms race in college athletics, student athletes are looking for the best and we live in a society where kids can access anything. Here at William Paterson keeping up with the sign of times and attracting best student-athletes possible.
Double G Sports: How did your experience at Stevenson University help you prepare to take over the reigns as head coach at William Paterson?
Dustin Johnson: My years there really helped me hone my coaching skills, paying a lot of attention to detail with such a young program and we had to build from the ground up. We established a chain of command and discipline and accountability. The players were not anything special but knew what the expectations were and told them to come in handle your business on the field and success will pay off.
Double G Sports: Can you talk about the importance of recruiting players from New Jersey to play at William Paterson?
Dustin Johnson: At Stevenson in Maryland, we realized New Jersey was an important state for recruiting. Morris, Passaic, Somerset and parts of Bergen. You look in Passaic County and town of Wayne itself, there are some perennial powers. Having an established relationship with some of the coaches and I have reached out to them and very important to me.
We saw the value of student-athletes coming out of this area and had several guys on our roster and three or four-year starters. We want kids in school for all four years and to be successful both athletically and academically.
Double G Sports: Last season the Pioneers went winless, have won a grand total of four games in the past three season, the last .500 record back in 2012 and has been 25 years since the program reached the playoffs. What is your plan to change that culture and field a winning team?
Dustin Johnson: It’s already happening, the players have been very receptive to the things we have brought in and new ideas. Everything grows from the foundation and building blocks. Our focus is attention to detail, getting better in small increments daily and becoming a more disciplined team. Getting the players out in the community and giving back is a big thing. Whenever you get the players outside of the stressful setting of the football and higher academics you get to see who they really are.
I’m going to lean on the coaching staff that has been here for a while. I’m the outside guy learning everything new for the first time. Hoping I can install some things that the guys have never done before and help us win some games down the road.
The NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) is very competitive, if we can win a few more games and approach it one week at a time. We’re going to take advantage of mismatches, putting defenses in uncomfortable situations and not force the football in tight situations/windows.