Today is a great day to honor the memory of Ed Johns who was born on this day in 1900. James Edward “Ed” Johns was born in Lansing, Michigan. He came to Ann Arbor after a successful high school athletic career at Lansing Central High School. Apparently, he got enough of Sparty Nation in high school so he saw the light in 1919.
Ed Johns played on the freshman team in 1919 and worked hard to get his chance on the varsity squad in 1920. Apparently, Johns learned how to play football the way Fieldling Yost liked. He started two games at right tackle in 1921 and played enough to earn a letter which was no easy feat under Yost. Michigan finished the 1920 season with a record of 5 wins and 2 losses. They went 2-2-0 in the conference with was only good enough for sixth place. Definitely not up to Yost’s expectations!
Ed Johns came back ready to improve on his play and hopefully to help the Wolverines do the same! He started three games at left tackle and earned his second letter on a team that improved slightly, but not great. Michigan finished the season with a final record of 5-1-1. They ended up 2-1-1 in the conference and moved up to fifth place. Better, but not good enough for Fielding Yost!
Senior James Edward Johns continued to play a lot of good football for Michigan in 1922. In fact, it turned out to be his best season and one of Michigan’s best seasons since they won a National Championship in 1918. Ed Johns started three more games and played in all the rest. He earned his third letter and became a champion when the Wolverines finished the season with a perfect record of 4-0-0 in conference play. The only blemish on the 1922 season was a tie (0-0) against Vanderbilt.
Here is a summary of the firsts that connect Ed Johns and Michigan Football:
· Played in the first game ever against Tulane in Ann Arbor on October 30, 1020. Michigan won by the score of 21-0.
· Played in the first ever Homecoming game against Ohio State. Maize and Blue fans and alumni went home with a frown after a 0-14 defeat at the hands of the Buckeyes!
· Played in the first ever tie game against Wisconsin (7-7) on November 12, 1921.
· Played in the first, and only, tie game against Vanderbilt (0-0) in 1922.
· Played on the 1922 conference champions and helped keep Michigan’s record of at least one championship in every decade of Western Conference/Big Ten play. (Michigan still is the only school to do this, but needs to win one by 2019 to keep the record intact. No pressure Coach Harbaugh!)
So, on the 117th anniversary of his birth, let us remember another Michigan Man. Ed Johns played a lot of good football for Michigan. He lettered on three Fielding Yost teams and finished his career as a champion! Take a moment today, to honor his memory and celebrate his accomplishments. Thank you, Ed Johns for your contributions to the history of Michigan football. Ed Johns passed away in December 1984. May he always rest in peace. Go Blue!