Powerful Perseverance


Written by Anthony Johnson Jr. | Image by Matt Van Winkle, Headshot Image by ISU Athletics 

Anthony Johnson Jr. at homecoming 2022

Anthony Johnson Jr., pictured before the 2022 ISU Homecoming game, credits Jack Trice for inspiring him to work through adversity. 

I am thankful I have the opportunity to not only represent the Cyclone football team, but also to represent all student-athletes. 

It is truly an honor — and surreal — to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jack Trice. 

The sacrifices that he made and what he stood for were powerful. I resonate with Jack Trice so much because of how he responded to adversity — and how he challenged adversity. 

I grew up in a motel with eight people and two beds. I faced many challenges. But I prevailed because I understood that my power resided in my response. 

Jack Trice paved the way for many African American student-athletes such as myself to be able to attend this university. I am so proud. I take great pride in “Breaking Barriers,” the new sculpture created and dedicated to Jack Trice’s legacy. It continues to show people around the world, athletes old and new, and students, that this is not just a statue and this is not just a logo. It is something that we truly believe in. It’s something we live by on a daily basis. 

It’s inspirational. When I faced adversity and wanted to quit, Jack Trice was the reason I kept going. 

Now I am on track to be the first in my family to graduate from college. Jack Trice is why I want to be the best role model I can be for my nephews and nieces. 

Jack Trice taught me that no matter the obstacles you face, how much the odds are against you, you do it with your chin up and your chest out. 

I took the Jack Trice “I Will” as a challenge. I stand before you today and can successfully say: I did. 

Anthony Johnson Jr. (’22 communication studies), a team captain on the Cyclone football team and a two-time recipient of the Jack Trice Endowed Scholarship, delivered these remarks Nov. 4, 2022, at the opening ceremony of the Jack Trice 100-Year Commemoration at Iowa State University. Johnson was a four-time All-Big 12 selection, breaking the Iowa State and Big 12 record with 54 career starts. He was an AFCA Good Works Team nominee and a four-time member of the Academic All-Big 12 teams. In April 2023, the St. Petersburg, Florida, native was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft.