Benny Shabtai was born in Tel Aviv and raised on a kibbutz. He has two siblings. He served for three years in the Israeli army, after which he worked as a bodyguard for the Israeli ambassador in Paris, France, where his father was stationed as an envoy. After two years in Paris, he traveled to South Africa, where he worked as a croupier at a casino in Swaziland. He returned to Israel to rejoin the army, serving during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Johnson has passed John Cappelletti as the only Penn State running back to gain 200 yards in a game four times in a career, let alone a season. Cappelletti had three consecutive 200-yard efforts in November, 1973 en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.