CUTigers.com continues it's countdown to kickoff series by taking a look at left guard Cedric Johnson. Johnson has been a mainstay on the offensive line at various positions in each of the last two seasons, and he'll once again see be a significant contributor in 2003.
Johnson was an honorable mention All-American by Southeastern Recruiting Alliance at Sumter High School. He was also a Shrine Bowl participant and helped pave the way for a 2000-yard rusher his senior season. At Clemson, Johnson has battled injuries, and issues with his weight and quickness, but he's seen significant action at guard in each of the last two seasons.
Johnson, who spent a majority of time at left guard during the 2002 season, has solidified his spot on the left sign of the line entering fall practice after redshirt freshman Nathan Bennett secured a starting spot at right guard this spring. Interestingly enough, Johnson has also filled in at right tackle for William Henry last season, and has also served as a backup center during his Clemson career.
The Thomasville, Georgia native has really taken the initiative to improve his play since his arrival at Clemson three years ago. After arriving on campus at an estimated 360 pounds, Johnson realized that he had his work cut out for him if he was ever going to play a starting spot. "I came to campus thinking that I could just do whatever and I'd be able to play, but Coach West changed that real quick," Johnson said.
As a result, Johnson has steadily seen his weight decline over the course of the last two years. In fact, he played in 11 of 12 games in 2001 even though he was hampered most of the year with a nagging knee injury. Last season,
Johnson is one of the strongest players on the team with a bench press of well over 500 pounds, however he needs to continue to work on his footwork and his quickness if he's going to improve this season.
Johnson has worked hard since his arrival at Clemson to keep his weight in check and he's going to be a critical element of the offensive line once again in 2003 as a redshirt junior. His versatility on the line gives Ron West the option of moving him around should injuries decimate the unit once this fall. Nonetheless, the left side of the offensive line isn't going to be viewed as a strength of the team unless big Cedric can really begin to assert himself.