Johnny Stanton, the new Browns fullback, has had a lot of change over the past few years. He went to three different colleges, changed positions twice and in a span of two months went from being a Viking to a member of the XFL’s LA Wildcats, then to the Browns. He’s a player that not many Browns fans know about, but he could be a big part of the running game in 2020.
Stanton was a quarterback in college at Nebraska and UNLV, throwing for 10 touchdowns while playing for the Runnin’ Rebels. When asked about the transition from quarterback to fullback, Stanton described it as a drastic change, but, Stanton described himself as a downhill runner, who would run through people, which made the transition easier. Stanton, who was signed before the 2018 season by the Vikings, actually believed he was going to be a tight end, before finding out via social media that he was going to be a running back.
Stanton then needed to take a break from the interview to respond to his grandparents, which just shows the character he has.
After accomplishing the dream of making it to the NFL, Stanton was injured in just his second preseason game. Stanton felt like he had a good chance to make the 53 man roster, describing the injury as “tough to fathom”, but Stanton also talked about how the fact that he was placed on injured reserve, rather than being cut as a huge confidence booster and furthered the belief that he was doing well and this gave him the motivation to fight even harder back to 100 percent.
When asked about who were the key figures in the last few years for Stanton, he identified three men. The first was C.J. Ham, the Vikings Pro Bowl fullback. Stanton described Ham as the “greatest guy and one of the toughest he had ever played with.” Stanton also expressed gratitude to Ham for not attempting to hide any of the intricacies of the fullback position. Stanton said that Ham was a great teacher and he was forever grateful to him. Stanton talked about the Vikings running backs coach, Kennedy Polomalu, and also called him a great teacher and said, “They develop great fullbacks over there in Minnesota.” The final guy who Stanton mentioned was Mike Karney, a fullback who played with the Saints and Rams in the 2010s. Karney, who lives just five minutes from Stanton, works out with Stanton in the offseason and described his experience and guidance as a great opportunity to learn. Karney a former All-Pro, said that he reached out to Stanton said that he “trained him on the field technique-wise and mentored him as well.”
Stanton, who has been in Minnesota with the Vikings for the past two years with new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, said that the relationship between the two, while limited, was a positive one. He said that while he was on the practice squad in 2019, he got a front-row seat on how “knowledgeable of the game he is, and how great of a coach he is.” Stanton is the only Brown who was on the roster with the Vikings in 2019.
Stefanski has stated that it is important to him to have a fullback available, rather for blocking or as an extra receiving option out of the backfield. Stanton said that this gives him “confidence that there is a spot for me, but that I have to obviously earn it.” When asked about the possibility of another fullback coming to compete with Stanton for the starting job, he said that he doesn’t speculate on himself and worries about his own development. He even welcomed the competition, saying that it makes a better player out of anybody.
When asked about what his first thought about coming to Cleveland was he said that he was “very, very excited.” He also spoke on how excited his friends were with them saying the Browns are one the “coolest teams in the league right now.” Stanton spoke with belief in the Browns saying that “we are on an upswing right now, we are getting better.”
Stanton said that he did not know what his number would be in Cleveland, though he would announce it on his social media accounts (@johnnystantoniv) when he found out.
Stanton will look to make an impact in Cleveland this fall, and the Browns fans should watch for him, in whatever number he is wearing, to be paving the way for running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.