Doubly Good Return

When Alabama safety Rashad Johnson injured his knee and ankle on the Crimson Tide's second kickoff against Mississippi State, the loss was twice as hard for Alabama to bear.

Rashad Johnson, a sophomore former walk-on from Sulligent, has been Bama's best cover man on special teams for the past two seasons and had worked his way into a starting role in the Alabama secondary, and did a stint as a kick returner when freshman Terry Grant and junior D.J. Hall were both out of the lineup with injuries. He had six tackles in his first career start against Hawaii, finishing the year with 26 tackles (19 solo), one and a half tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.

In that loss to Mississippi State, Johnson suffered a high ankle sprain and a partially torn MCL knee ligament on the same play.

"I was going in to make the play and I'm not sure exactly who it was, but someone came in and rolled me up right over my knee," Johnson said Thursday. "It was terrible. You never know you want to practice until you're hurt and you can't practice. You always complain about how you're tired, this and that, but once you get hurt you wish you were out there no matter what."

Johnson, who has shared the starting safety spot with Marcus Carter for most of the season, said he probably wouldn't start in the Independence Bowl, "but it's going to be kind of like the same rotation even if I don't. I'm going to get in pretty early."

This time last year Johnson was getting his first look as a safety at Alabama. He started his career as a running back, but Tide coaches saw enough of him in practices and on special teams to move him out of the depth-filled (at the time) spot to a position of need for the Tide.

Even while he was excited to be back on the practice field, he ready to get home for the players' truncated Christmas break. They will report to Shreveport on Sunday night.


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