Chatting with BC’s Zion Johnson after he became the Chargers’ first-round pick


“It was really like a pinch moment. I was like, ‘This is real.'”

BC offensive lineman Zion Johnson proudly wears a Chargers jersey after being their first-round pick.

Boston College offensive lineman Zion Johnson went 17th overall to the Chargers in Thursday’s NFL Draft.

Johnson, a zero-star rookie who started his college career at Davidson, has gone on to become one of the nation’s top guards in BC.

He spoke with the Globe late Thursday night, talking about how his night went and how he expects to fit in with the Chargers.

Q What went through your mind when you heard your name after months of anticipation and speculation?

A. It was a surprise. I was literally just in conversation with my agent and [BC] coach [Jeff] Hafley, then, out of nowhere, my phone starts ringing and it says “Chargers Football” as the caller ID. I’m like, “Oh, my God.”

I just say hold on everybody, give me a minute, and I answer the phone. The general manager talks to me, the head coach, the owner. It was just great to hear them talk about me as Charger. It was surreal.

Q You were shaking your head and smiling as you walked on the carpet. What was that moment like when you finally got to put that hat on?

A. It really felt like a pinch moment. I was like, “This is real.”

It’s been quite a journey for me, from not having had any athletic scholarship offers out of high school, to being in Davidson and BC, it’s just been a lot of changes. It’s good to finally hear my name called.

Draft Day has felt so far throughout this process. For that to happen and to find out where I’m going to spend my career, it’s amazing.

Q When you think back to where you started, can you put into perspective how you got there and what it means to you to be a first rounder?

A. I have overcome a lot of adversity throughout my career. To finally achieve one of my goals, to be drafted – even in the first round – that means a lot. It literally pushes me to keep being an even better player and to work harder. It shows me that the amount of hard work I put in throughout my high school and college career is paying off.

I’m going to keep doing that, being a player that helps the Chargers win football games.

Q What stands out from the fit itself and what do you expect living in Los Angeles?

A. I’ve actually never been to Los Angeles, but I can’t wait to go and see everyone, meet my teammates and my coaches and see the stadium. Everything I’ve heard is about SoFi and how awesome the stadium is. I can not wait to go there.

Of course, I am aware of their offence. Their quarterback, Justin Herbert, a few guys on their offensive line like Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley. They have dynamic receivers and a very good running back as well. Going to a team with an attack like that is just amazing. Who could have thought of a better fit?

Q You’ve said in the past that you’re happy to play anywhere down the line. Where do you see yourself fitting into the Chargers?

A. Wherever Coach sees me helping the team win, I’m open to playing anywhere. Left guard, right guard, center, anywhere.

Q Your phone must explode. Did you get any favorite texts or calls tonight?

A. I trained through that process with Josh Sitton, a guy who played for the Packers and was a really good player. He taught me a lot and he reached out and said my congratulations. It was really great.

It was cool to see all my friends and family reaching out and the people who helped me along the way. The people for whom it was most special were the people who were here with me. I was able to hug my mom, my uncle, and my high school O-line coach before I walked out – three people who were instrumental in helping me get to where I am today. I love them more than they could even know.

Q Now that it’s finally happened, what is your vision and plan for the future?

A. My goal is to work as hard as I can, be a sponge and soak up everything my coach and my teammates have to learn. I want to contribute in any way I can. My goal is excellence. Whatever that means to me on the Chargers, and as a member of the organization, I just try to strive for excellence.


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