Juice is Juiced to Report

For Ocala Trinity Catholic star safety Chris Johnson, getting to Florida wasn't an option. Johnson didn't have the best scholastic career in high school, and it was something he had to deal with all the way until he graduated. But, he persevered and will report Tuesday for his freshman season. The long time Gators fan nicknamed ‘Juice' is pumped about it.

There is so much to do when you show up for your freshman year of college football and Chris Johnson just wants to get started at Florida.

"I want to hit the weights and learn the plays," Johnson said by phone this week. "I just want to see what camp is like. I haven't bonded with any of my classmates, so I am looking forward to that too."

Despite his physical ability, Johnson knows he will have to work hard to see the field at Florida, a school that has recruited well. He wants the competition.

"I know that nothing is going to be given to me," he said. "I am going to have to work hard. That is what every coach expects. I am just ready to come in and do my job."

One coach that will make him work hard is strength and conditioning coordinator Mickey Marotti. Marotti has a little bit of a reputation as a tough coach. Johnson has already been spending time in Gainesville running stadium stairs in preparation.

"I talk to Coach Mick and have been talking to him since my sophomore year," Johnson said. "Everyone calls me "Juice" and I guess he loves the name. He can't wait to get me in the weight room." Most safeties when they report to college are interested in playing the free safety position. Johnson has the speed and instincts to play at free safety, but he loves the contact that comes playing inside at strong safety.

"I am going to be at strong safety, he said with a grin you could see through the phone. "You have to be tough and have to have instincts. I feel like I am a more run type of safety. I am going to run and hit guys. I feel like that is what is missing right now. You look back at that South Carolina game and I think that is what needs to happen, a hard hitting safety."

At safety he will be coached by Travaris Robinson and like so many other guys, he really likes his defensive back coach.

"He's a funny guy," Johnson said of Robinson. "He is honest and straight forward. Not many coaches are like that. I am looking forward to playing for him.

With all the excitement of coming to college, it took a lot of work in his senior season in the classroom to make sure this moment would come.

"There was one point I was worried, but I just kept the faith and kept believing," he said. "I knew I could do it. I made a bet with (former Florida head coach) Coach Meyer about qualifying and when you challenge me I am going to do what I have to do."

The pressure was on throughout his senior year.

"It was probably the fourth quarter in school before I knew for sure," he said. "People were out doing their senior things and I knew I couldn't do that. I had to do it tough to the end."

When he found out everything was clear earlier this month, it was a blessing. He understands it will be tough at Florida.

"It felt so good," he said when he knew he qualified. "I had so much tutoring and all that hard work that I had never done before. It taught me a lot about what college was going to be like."

Johnson is just ready to do whatever the coaching staff at Florida wants him to do.

"I want to come in and do my role and get wherever they want me to play me and go 100% on and off the field," he said. "I want to be a leader and am a real discipline guy. I want to stay out of the headlines I want to have fun doing it and not be stressful.

"I talked to Coach today and told him I thought we could win a national championship. If everybody's mindset is focused I really think we can do it.

"I want to come in and work hard on and off the field in the classroom. If I don't get on the field early, then just learn from the older guys. If it is kickoff or punt, I am going to be out there going full speed and just play football.

"I just want to win a national championship and hopefully make the Dean's list."

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