East Texan lives out a dream

By: Ryan Peterson - email

Gilmer, TX (KLTV) - Things couldn't be any better for Gilmer native Manuel Johnson.

"Growing up, my whole family was Dallas Cowboys fans," said Johnson, who was selected by the Cowboys in the April draft.  "We knew all the players, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman. So for me to play for the Dallas Cowboys, is like a dream come true."

So it's understandable that you can't wipe the smile off Johnson's face.  Not many guys get to play in the N.F.L. Even fewer get to play for their favorite team.

This week, the Cowboys rookie returned to where it all started.  Johnson has become a hero in Gilmer.

"I know we say it a lot, but he (Johnson) is the best,"said Gilmer Head Coach Jeff Traylor.  "He (Johnson) is the face of the program. He's a dream to coach, he's a dream on the field and a dream off the field.  He's what the game's all about."

Johnson believes he's the product of great coaching.

"I was just fortunate enough to have a little bit of talent to go do better things," said Johnson.  "If the kids to look up to me, I take that upon myself to do the right thing, so they have someone to look up to."

So far so good for Johnson.  The rookie receiver was a star at the Cowboys final off season mini camp.

"Once a I got the playbook, I felt like I was back at college," said the former Oklahoma Sooner.  "Things were starting to click for me. Quarterbacks were throwing to be more, getting more confidence in me, which helped me build my confidence up."

With training camp looming, most rookie seventh round picks would just want to make the team.  Johnson has much bigger ideas.

"I want to start, I want to play," said Johnson.  "With me seeing the receivers that we have and my ability, I don't see why there should be a reason that I can't start.  But it's going to take a lot of work for me. It's not going to be easy."

Johnson and the Cowboys report to training camp July 28th.