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Tyron Johnson: Proving the Doubters Wrong
From the undrafted mentality to where he gets his nickname, here's more from T Billy.
By Hayley Elwood Aug 16, 2021

We're continuing our series of checking in with Chargers players ahead of the 2021 season.

Our next conversation features wide receiver Tyron Johnson.

More commonly known as T Billy, Johnson looks to build off his impressive 2020 campaign where he led all pass catchers with four receptions of 50-plus yards.

Here's more from Johnson on his underdog mentality, Justin Herbert, and oh yeah, where the nickname T Billy comes from.

Welcome back! You were having such a stellar camp and then you got a little banged up. What was the process like of having to wait it out and take a little time to get back?

Tyron Johnson: I'm feeling good! It's good. It wasn't a rush, really. It's still early. We didn't want to jump out too quickly so the best thing I had on my side was time. I had time to sit out and miss, but it feels good to be back out here.

How's camp been going since coming back?

Johnson: It's been great. Just working everyday, getting up and trying to make something happen.

What's it been like being back out here in front of fans who were missing last year?

Johnson: It's energizing for sure. Instead of last year coming out here flat with nobody and not hearing anything is really demoralizing. But having fans is that extra boost and extra energy that we need to win games.  

You've been putting on a show out here for them!

Johnson: I feel like that's my obligation! When I wake up I think I'm gonna make a play today. I'm gonna make something special happen. I try to wake up every day with that mindset of doing something nobody else does.

What was the biggest difference for you last year in terms of being available, but making plays?

Johnson: Last year, I felt like I was hungry. I was fighting for my life to make this team I felt like. So now it's, 'We know you can make plays, what else can you do?' That's where I'm at right now. Taking another jump from last year. I did this, what can I do better?

How did the time that you spent with Justin Herbert last year in camp help you?

Johnson: It helped both of us. Tyrod [Taylor] was the starter, so the reps I got were with Herbert. We had the connection way before he got the No. 1 job and way before I got activated. So when he threw the ball to me, it was something that had been going on but nobody saw because we were the 2s. We built chemistry and by the time I got in the game, it was just money.

What's the most impressive thing about Herbert?

Johnson: Seeing how far he came from where he started. Seeing him coming in, then seeing him get called into a game where he really wasn't supposed to play and go out there and play like he did? I was amazed after that! I knew what he could do from in practice, I was just waiting for that moment. When he got in and he did what he did? I was like, that guy can play!

What's the key to getting separation downfield?

Johnson: Closing the cushion between you and the defender. Once you pass him, put your head down and get into another gear so he can't catch up. But also, just having a guy who can sling it that far! That helps. A guy that can get me the ball 60- or 70-yards down field, that's a fast guy's dream, a quarterback that can get it there.

What excites you most about the preseason?

Johnson: Just getting to play against someone else. You get OTAs and then you get to camp, and you're going against your guys every day. When it's time to go against somebody else, it's a whole different feeling and it brings out a whole different type of player in everybody.

What's a fun fact about you?

Johnson: A lot of people don't know this, I scored on my first touch at every level of my career. At two different colleges, too. I didn't know this, but my friends called me and told me I did it. That's gotta be like my favorite personal record.

Who was your favorite player growing up?

Johnson: A tough one! I liked a lot of players growing up. I'm gonna start with Randy Moss, TO [Terrell Owens], Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne. That group of guys made me wanna be a dog receiver. Steve Smith. It's never one set guy, I just liked a lot of people's games.

You think you take a little from those guys?

Johnson: I try to take a little but I'm me. I'm T Billy. But from the greats, I add a little piece to my game.

Where does T Billy come from?

Johnson: That's me! It's what people called me when I was young. My last name was Billy before it was Johnson, so I had two first names in 'Tyron Billy' and my elementary school teachers just called me Billy. All my life, people never called me Tyron or TJ, when I [added] Johnson. But since elementary, I've been called Billy and then in high school it was T Billy from there. 

Is that more comfortable for you?

T Billy: You're gonna naturally adapt to it. If you've been around me or people I've been around, you're naturally gonna call me T Billy before you even know my real name.

What was your favorite play last season?

T Billy: It had to be against Atlanta. I had the deep out route, cover two to set up the game winning field goal. Badge [Michael Badgley] lined up to kick it. I got the game ball, offensive player of the game. That was just one of my favorite plays just to do something other than a deep route and show I can do other stuff. On top of it, it was big. Being undrafted to having to check in the game and help win it for the team.

Lastly, knowing where you came from, being undrafted, do you still have that hunger in camp this year?

T Billy: It's the same hunger [as] being undrafted. I wake up and say every team passed on me seven times. They're crazy! When I walk out here, I'm proving everyone wrong, all the doubters wrong. I believe in myself always. It's a great feeling to be out here. I'm grateful for the opportunity.

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