Sports With Walter Moore


Johnson Invited To Hula Bowl

Savannah State offensive lineman Michael Johnson will play in the 2021 Hula Bowl on January 31 which will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.

Johnson participated in the 2021 Spiral Tropical Bowl which was held January 17 in Kissimmee, Florida at Rosa Field at John Bushey Stadium which is the home field of Celebration High School.

Johnson played on the National Team which won the contest 20-17 when Kansas State’s Blake Lynch kicked a 29-yard field goal with six seconds remaining.

Listed at 6-foot- 5 and 338 pounds, Johnson did well in the game, according to senior NFL draft analyst Jordan Reid who took notice of Johnson during the practice sessions.

“His best reps came during the one-on-one portion of practice where he was able to show off his strength. Containing a dense upper body, Johnson was able to use that to his advantage often. Repeatedly stopping interior defenders in their tracks, Johnson’s power and anchor were two traits to immediately jump out about him. Spending time at both guard and tackle, it was clear that his most comfortable spot was at guard,” states Reid.


Reid, who projects that Johnson will be a undrafted free agent, added that Johnson has a strong football I.Q. “Johnson’s smarts were also on display during the team portions of practice. Last November, the former Tiger interior blocker graduated with a Masters of Business Administration degree. That knowledge and football I.Q. carried over onto the field during the two days of practice.” Reid thinks that Johnson would work best in a downhill blocking scheme that involves lots of man, gap, and power blocking where he’s able to use his wide frame frequently against the opposition.

Johnson said he enjoyed his time at the Tropical Bowl. “The week in Orlando was nice. I got to meet a lot of scouts and met players from all over the country.” The Roanake, Virginia native added that he was honored to play with players from bigger schools from conferences such as the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference and was thrilled knowing he was one of the top ten players there. “Everyone there was extremely talent and have bright futures playing football but I was fighting harder than anyone to show what I could do and it worked.”


The Tropical Bowl, which began in 2016, featured top seniors playing in front of NFL scouts and general managers in preparation for the draft in April.

Former SSU Player Signs With Cardinals

Former Savannah State football player Donald Rutledge, Jr. has signed a futures contract with the Arizona Cardinals.

Rutledge played two seasons at Savannah State, from 2017-18. The Sumter, South Carolina native also earned a degree in civil engineering in 2018 from SSU.

Rutledge started his collegiate career as a walk-on at The Citadel where he was redshirted during the 2015 season.


After transferring to SSU, Rutledge sat out the 2016 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

The following season he played in 11 contests and led the team with 81 tackles from his safety spot. He also had two interceptions, eight pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Rutledge tallied 13 tackles against Charleston Southern.

During his junior season in 2018, Rutledge played in ten games, had 53 tackles, one tackle for loss, two interceptions, seven pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He had ten tackles against Bethune-Cookman and Delaware State

The 6-foot-1 safety played his final year of college eligibility as a graduate transfer at nearby Georgia Southern.

During the 2019 season, Rutledge played in 12 games, had 50 tackles, one tackles for loss, five pass breakups and one interception which he returned for a 42 yard touchdown against Louisiana Monroe.

Following the season, he went undrafted out of Georgia Southern in 2020 and landed with the Indianapolis Colts before he was released at the end of training camp

Mitchell, Former SSU Football Player, Dies

Leonard Mitchell, a former football player at Savannah State University has died. Mitchell was 62.

A native of Augusta, Mitchell came to SSU on a football scholarship and played wide receiver for the Tigers from 1976-80.

“He was a hard worker and a good contributor to the team. He always did the right thing,” said Mitchell’s college coach, Frank Ellis, Jr.

Former Savannah State teammate Robert Slocum said that he remembers Mitchell as being very studious. “Leonard was a couple of years younger than us. He would hang out sometimes with me and my roommate, Tim Camp. Leonard was really focused on his grades and often sought help from us with class work.”

Mitchell earned a engineering degree from Savannah State and went on to work as a traffic engineer for the city of Atlanta. In his spare time he liked to bowl.

A devout Christian, he was a member of Red Oak United Methodist Church where he was involved in many ministries such as the male chorus, United Methodist Men and the finance committee.

Mitchell was also a Life Member of the SSU National Alumni Association and was an active member of the Atlanta Downtown Chapter.

“He was a real good chapter member and we will miss him,” said former chapter president Danny Parrish. Mitchell served as the chapter’s treasurer at one point.

Graveside services were held for Mitchell on January 23 at Red Oak United Methodist Church in Stockbridge.

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