RICHMOND, Va. - Throughout his three years at VCU, Head Coach Dave Giffard has constantly talked about developing his student-athletes to reach their ultimate potential, both on and off the playing field.

That development process is what helped land junior forward Jason Johnson an exclusive opportunity to be one of four players in the country to recently sign a Generation adidas contract with Major League Soccer. Johnson is now eligible for selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 17 at the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis.

"Obviously, we are very happy for JJ. This is something that has been a dream for him since he arrived at VCU two and a half years ago," Giffard said. "Being offered a Generation adidas contract is by far, the best way for a college player to enter MLS. It speaks volumes to how much he has worked on his game in the last two years to go from a very talented non-starter as a freshman in 2010 to one of the top players in all of college soccer in 2012. It's a tremendous look into who he is as a person and where I think his potential lies."

Generation adidas players are typically among the top selections in the MLS SuperDraft, and they also do not count against a team's salary budget or roster limit. They are guaranteed multi-year contracts that also include educational grants to continue their college education. Players who join MLS as part of the Generation adidas program receive the opportunity to develop their game and hone their skills at the professional level.  

This past fall, Johnson was named the 2012 Offensive Player of the Year in the Atlantic 10, scoring 13 goals and dishing out six assists en route to 32 points . He earned NSCAA All-Region honors for the second year in a row in addition to the A-10 accolades.

For his career, the Happy News, Jamaica native posted 28 goals and 10 assists in his three seasons with the Black & Gold. He earned all-conference recognition each year, while earning All-Region accolades in 2011 and 2012.

Johnson is the first player in VCU history to earn a Generation adidas contract. He's the first player to do so for Coach Giffard during his three-year head coaching tenure, but the 12th player overall since 2006 that Giffard has coached.

Joining JJ will be Furman's Walker Zimmerman, Louisville's Andrew Farrell and UNC's Mikey Lopez as the first set of players to sign GA contracts. All four players will participate in the 2013 MLS Player Combine, which kicks off next Friday, Jan. 11.