Diontae Johnson reflects on the passing of former WR coach Darryl Drake
The Pittsburgh Steelers welcomed the start of the 2019 season with grieving hearts. Then Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, 62, was found unresponsive in his dorm room back on August 11, 2019. A year later, the unfateful tragedy was still fresh in the memories of the players.
Steelers wideout Diontae Johnson shared his thoughts to ESPN NFL Nation reporter Brooke Pryor:
WR Diontae Johnson on former WR coach Darryl Drake, who died unexpectedly during last year's training camp: "We still remember him every day. … He meant a lot to us. You don't see those type of guys or come across those type of guys like that."
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 5, 2020
Drake was reportedly taken to nearby Excela Health Latrobe Hospital on the eve of his death. The tests did not show any abnormality but the doctors wanted to observe the condition of the football coach overnight. Drake insisted and went on to return to the team’s training camp that night until he was found unconscious in his room the next morning.
The unexpected passing of the wide receivers coach welcomed Diontae Johnson into the league. The University of Toledo product was recently drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft. It seems like the coach was able to make a huge impact on the rookie despite spending such a short time in the team’s training camp proceedings last season.
With a depleted Steelers roster last season, the rookie eventually made his mark on the team. The 66th pick went on to bag a second-team All-Pro inclusion in his debut year last season. He also finished the 2019 season with 59 receptions for 680 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns.
Johnson will be looking to produce better numbers with the looming comeback of star wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster and veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
As a unit, the Steelers will be looking to improve from a subpar 8-8 record and contend for the AFC North division title.