Clarence Johnson and former Alabama A&M football coach Ray Greene are close friends nowadays, but there was once a time when the relationship was a bit strained. In 1980, Johnson was finishing a sparkling career as a two-time scatback All-City running back at J. O. Johnson High School in northwest Huntsville. Greene was just three miles up the road, in the second year of his first of two stints as Alabama A&Ms head football coach. I liked playing at Johnson, especially when we went up against Butler and Lee, said Johnson. I had a lot of friends at those two schools. For me, those were the two biggest games of the year.(It was in high school, incidentally, that Johnson acquired his nickname, Count. He explained: I was gaining a lot of yards and some of my teammates said, Are you keeping up with your yardage? I said, Naw, I dont keep a count of that stuff. And I was Count after that.) Johnson was hoping for a scholarship offer from A&M after high school, but Ray Greene told him that he was too small to play for the Bulldogs. I used that as incentive, said Johnson. He gave me that extra inspiration. I had a point to prove. Johnson accepted an offer from coach Wayne Grubb at the University of North Alabama in Florence. Confounding his doubters, he lettered four years as a running back at UNA, where he led NCAA Division II in scoring in 1983 (102 points and 17 touchdowns) and was named Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 1985. He finished his college career as UNA's all-time leading rusher (3,158 yards in 586 carries) and career touchdown leader (34). Twenty-eight years later, he still ranks second in career rushing at UNA (behind Tyrone Rush) and is third in touchdowns scored. Johnson was later named to UNAs 50th Anniversary Team (1949-98) and the GSC Team of the Decade (1980s). In other words, he proved his point. I have a lot of people to thank, Johnson said. First Id like to thank God for providing me with wonderful parents, Oscar and Beulah Johnson, and for my siblings, Dannie, Thomas, Kelvin and Angela. Id also like to give a special thanks to three coaches who had a big influence on my athletic accomplishments Max Burleson, Jack Crowe and Ray Greene. Burleson, the football coach at Johnson, befriended his young running back by making me a part of his family and keeping me out of trouble. Crowe coached the running backs for Grubb when Johnson first went to UNA. He taught me how to handle those linebackers and cornerbacks, said Johnson. I hated to see him leave when he went down to Auburn with Pat Dye. I was thinking, I wish I could go with you. Greene? Coach Greene and I are good friends now, Johnson said. We joke about what happened all the time. I get in his face and give him a hard time. I say, Look what you missed out on. He just laughs, and so do I. I thank God for entrusting all those coaches in leading and guiding me on my path from childhood to manhood. Its because of their guidance, support and wisdom that I became the man that I am today. Im proud to say they encouraged me and guided me into becoming a great athlete in school and taught me to strive to be an even greater man in life. Clarence Johnson has worked in the field of transportation for years, first with Carolina National and later with Dixie Box & Crating, Roadway Package Service, Transportation Safety and Alabama A&M University. He currently works as a commercial truck driver, driving an 18-wheeler for FedEx. Johnson and his wife, Yolanda Goodwin Johnson, have four children: Chase, Autumn, Chenea and Tommy.