|Dustin Johnson was the Atlantic Central Football Conference rookie of the year in 2002 and played three seasons in the Arena Football League before beginning his Division III coaching career.
Stevenson athletics photo
William Paterson has tabbed Dustin Johnson, who has enjoyed a successful five-year stint as Stevenson's defensive coordinator, to lead the football program as its head coach.
Johnson helped lead the Mustangs to a conference title during just its sixth season of intercollegiate competition, thanks to assembling defenses that ranked among the top 25 in Division III in several categories during each of the last three years. He brings strong New Jersey recruiting ties to the Pioneers. Johnson replaced Jerry Flora, who coached the Pioneers for the past 10 seasons. He stepped down in February after an 0-10 season, and a 33-67 overall mark in 10 seasons.
The Pioneers haven't finished with a winning record since 1993, and have compiled three winless seasons in that span.
“I plan to bring energy to the program, by putting our players in positions which will allow them to play fast,” Johnson said. “I am excited to get to work and build a culture around commitment, teamwork, competitiveness and alumni involvement. Everything we do will be geared towards leadership, accountability and selflessness. We want to prepare our players to become leaders on the William Paterson campus and throughout the Paterson community.”
Johnson was an integral part of the program building process at Stevenson, which played its inaugural football season in 2011. The Mustangs’ defensive backs coach since August 2010, the special teams coordinator for the 2012 season and the defensive coordinator since 2013, he helped lead the team to its first-ever Middle Atlantic Conference title in 2016.
“Dustin embodies a number of characteristics we were looking for in our next head football coach,” athletic director Sabrina Grant said. “He has a positive attitude, high energy and a strong work ethic, combined with great versatility as a coach. Dustin played a vital role in building the Stevenson football program through solid academic and recruitment plans. Those experiences should pay dividends for the Pioneer football program. I am optimistic about the future of the football program under Dustin’s leadership.”
Under his tutelage, Stevenson led Division III in turnover margin per game (1.91), takeaways (40) and interceptions (29) in 2015, rated fourth in interceptions (26) during the 2016 campaign, and ranked 12th in fumbles recovered (13) last fall. Among his protégés was defensive back Austin Tennessee, a 2016 first-team D3football.com All-American, the MAC and D3football.com East Region Defensive Player of the Year, the winner of the Rocky Myers Division III Defensive Back of the Year award, and an eventual signee with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.
Since being named the Mustangs’ defensive coordinator in March of 2013, Johnson has overseen all facets of the defense, including practice and game planning, play calling, skill instruction, student-athlete performance evaluation, film breakdown and scouting. He also managed the special teams and defensive coaching staff members, and completed administrative tasks that included budgeting for apparel, uniforms, travel and meals. His recruiting efforts focused on Northern New Jersey (Bergen, Morris, Passaic and Somerset Counties), as well as Maryland (Baltimore and Prince George’s Counties and the Eastern Shore) and Delaware.
Johnson’s charges have excelled in the classroom, with 15 earning conference academic laurels during the last three seasons, as academic support, monitoring grades, conducting weekly academic meetings and supervising study halls were among his responsibilities at Stevenson. He also collaborated with the Special Olympics, Kennedy Kreiger Institute and Mechanicsville Elementary School on community outreach efforts that connected Mustang student-athletes with the local community, and utilized a retention and leadership program that created strong bonds between the program’s upper- and underclassmen.
Also a key contributor to the program’s alumni relations efforts, Johnson was heavily involved with the Mustangs’ evaluation and recruitment of prospective student-athletes, and organized campus visits, recruiting days and overnight visits while tracking all applications during the admissions process. He also worked with Stevenson’s compliance staff regarding transfers, eligibility, official visits and other NCAA Division III rules and regulations.
“I would like to thank Dr. Miki Cammarata, Sabrina Grant, Kristen Foley and the William Paterson University community for this opportunity,” Johnson said. “I am excited and looking forward to competing for NJAC titles. This is an incredible opportunity and one I have been preparing for my entire football life. Throughout my playing and coaching career, I have had the opportunity to play for and coach with many influential coaches. Playing under coach Sherman Wood and coaching with coach Ed Hottle has helped me build my current coaching philosophy.”
A four-year starting quarterback and two-time team captain at Salisbury (2002-05), Johnson finished his Sea Gull career with several records in tow. He was the second-leading rusher with 3,215 yards and the sixth-ranked passer with 2,204 yards, while also finishing 10th with 174 total points. Johnson was named the 2002 Atlantic Central Football Conference (ACFC) Rookie of the Year after he rushed for 1,204 yards, the national leader among quarterbacks. Johnson was acknowledged as a second-team all-ACFC pick three times during his career while twice earning academic all-ACFC selections.
The Delmar, Maryland, native played three seasons (2007-09) in the Arena Football League as a quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back for the Amarillo Dusters and Bossier-Shreveport Battlewings. He began his coaching career at Delmar High School in 2001, working with the quarterbacks and defensive backs, and was a facility coordinator at Salisbury in 2002. He was the Sea Gulls’ running backs and assistant strength and conditioning coach from 2005-07, and Salisbury’s defensive backs coach from 2008-10 before joining the Stevenson staff.
Johnson completed a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at Salisbury in 2006, and a master’s in athletic administration at Concordia University in 2018.