Oct. 22, 2016

by Spencer Haynes

Most people want to be successful in life, but some struggle to define success. That is not a problem for Virginia senior quarterback Matt Johns. His formula for success is straightforward.

“Just being the best man I can be, whether it is a teammate, a friend, a mentor or just listening to someone else,” Johns said.

At the heart of Johns’ philosophy is a belief that personal success is found in relational success. That belief is rooted in helping people, and he seeks to impact the lives of others every day.

“A lot of people like to talk, but they do not like to listen,” Johns said.

Because of that, he has made a habit of talking less and listening more.

When Johns first arrived at the University, he was unsure what it took to be profitable in life, but he did not let that deter his desire.

“I just tried to work really hard and see the guys who were being successful and what they were doing to be successful,” he said. “Most guys who were the most successful guys were team guys, and they were just really good people off the field and on the field.”

After he realized what it would take to be successful, Johns did not hesitate to implement that in his life. Now, he leans on his knowledge and experiences to help him in the journey that will start in earnest after this football season.

Johns is not certain what he will do after college, but he is certain that he wants to be the best in whatever he chooses.

“If that [football] doesn’t work out, I am either going into the business world or doing the graduate assistant route and becoming a coach,” he said. “It is something where I have to sit down and weigh my options.”

Johns is not going to make this decision on a whim. He will meticulously analyze the best option before choosing, and he will look to others for guidance.

“I am trying to get as many opinions from as many people as possible, and really move forward with my decision based on the different opinions I get from people and trying to figure out what is going to be best for myself,” he said.

In either case, Johns said, he will not settle for simply being average.

“My goal in the business world would be to be a CEO one day, and if I were to go the coaching route, I would eventually want to be a head coach,” Johns said.

For now, the big dreams and lofty goals will have to wait, because Johns is focused on this season and his team.

“I am really enjoying my time here in the last season with what this team and the coaching staff is doing,” he said. “I am doing something football-related at all times. I still love watching film and I do a lot of that.”

Johns’ dedication to his craft should serve him well in whatever avenue he decides to explore.

While football and school take up most of his time, and Johns loves both, he also makes the most of what free time he has.

Every Friday, members of the football team visit UVA Children’s Hospital. For Johns, that has been an extremely rewarding experience.

“Jackson [Matteo] and I were like, ‘Hey, let’s go,’ ” Johns said. “We had no class on Fridays, decided to go and it ended up being pretty impactful on us and the kids we were visiting.”

That one visit quickly turned into a weekly tradition.

“My motivation was having an impact on the youth and being the best man I can be off the field,” he said. “For a lot of people, all they can see is what happens on the field, but if what you do off the field leaves an impression with them, that is pretty special.”

The opportunity to be known off the field is also something he finds rewarding.

“It is kind of nice,” he said. “When you are going to the hospital every Friday, these kids just know you for being a person. They hear you play football, but they do not know who you are. They probably do not even know my number.”

Johns ultimately wants to be more than a football player, and the hospital and the children he meets there allow him to do just that. At the same time, he is able to use his platform as a player to affect the lives of those kids.

What career path Johns will follow when he leaves UVA is still to be determined. No matter which door he opens, though, he already has the keys to success.