If he threw the ball, ran the ball or even kicked the ball, Heisman-happy p.r. people would be making sure his name stuck in your head like a Ricky Martin chorus.
But offensive linemen are like referees -- the less you hear about them, the better they're doing the job. It may be as many parts heresy as hyperbole to call Johanningmeier the top talent in a league with Mr.-Heisman Hype Ricky Williams, but it's true.
What makes the senior so special is not just his versatility, but his adaptability. During the '98 season, Johanningmeier was called on to play three different positions on the offensive line -- three games at right tackle, four at center and three more at left tackle -- all while grading better than 94 percent on blocking assignments.
In pass protection, the huge Johanningmeier is like the Rock of Gibraltar. If the defense is going to get to QB Mike Moschetti, it won't be through Johanningmeier, who can move linemen singlehandedly. And he's no slouch run-blocker either, a skill he'll get to demonstrate frequently for new Colorado coach Gary Barnett.
Barnett has vowed to make Colorado's "We don't need no stinkin' runnin' back" offense into a more well-rounded attack. Johanningmeier is more than ready to follow the new lead. "It's almost embarrassing where we finished upstat-wise last year," he said. "Being 11th in the Big 12 in rushing is just one of the bigger slaps in the face we've had to deal with."
But Johanningmeier's No. 1 responsibility will continue to be keeping Moschetti vertical. He has been penciled in at weak guard and will be flanked by four returning starters from last year's injury-plagued line. It's a combination that comes with two guarantees: Johanningmeier will be the best lineman in the Big12, and you'll still never hear about him.
Johanningmeier recently suffered an injury of his own: a broken wrist in practice. Yet, despite the fact he will be in a cast for six weeks, Colorado expects he'll only miss a few days of practice. A "mild setback," apparently, for a major physical force.