Johnson Sees Early PT

Summer football camps are a time for high school athletes to get better. For some, it is a time to prove their worth at the college they may be camping at. For 2009 Gator commitment Kedric Johnson of Palmetto (FL), last summer will most likely go down as the most important of his entire football career. He came to Gainesville to prove he belonged. In June he will enroll on full scholarship.

Last June, Kedric Johnson was part of a summer lineman camp that also included Under Armour All-American defensive tackle Gary Brown. Everyone watching camp that summer knew who he was and what he brought to the table before he arrive in Gainesville. Brown didn't disappoint, but out of Brown's shadow emerged a star defensive end that quickly became a favorite of the Florida coaching staff - Johnson. The two would be paired up for a few days and became good friends. Now they are teammates.

Johnson came to that camp and left it without an offer to be a Florida Gator. However, his presence and his pass rushing skills opened the eyes of the Florida football staff enough to take a hard look at him during the season. It only took four weeks into the fall football season to know that Johnson was the real deal. On October 2, he was offered a scholarship and accepted immediately.

At 6-4, and 213-pounds Johnson isn't quite physically ready to face SEC competition. But, keep in mind both starting fox end Jermaine Cunningham and backup William Green showed up at the University of Florida at 206 pounds or lighter and both saw time as true freshmen on the football field. Johnson will be playing the same position.

"They told me they want me at the fox end position," Johnson said late last week. "They like my speed, quickness, and my ability to come off the edge and get to the quarterback. They said if I can gain some weight and keep my speed they will keep me at the position."

The fox end requires the player to be a quick pass rusher off the edge and at times to drop back in coverage in zone defenses. That is something that Johnson will have to get used to but is excited to try.

"In high school we played standing up at defensive end," he said. "There were a couple of games in my career where I dropped back into coverage, so it will be a challenge. More than likely I will have to be taught that, but that will make it more fun. Hopefully I can adapt, get used to it and do it."

Listed as three stars on Scout.com, he has never let anyone that graded him tell him how good or not good he can be. Like the guys signed before him, Johnson thinks he can come in and play right away. It wasn't even something that crossed his mind much as a recruit, but now it is something that drives him.

"I learned...that if I go in there and take care of business, I have a chance to take the field this year," he said. "No matter what the critics or bloggers say, I really believe if I go in there with my mind set to take care of business...nobody can stop me...I will see the field."

"I thought it before signing day, but I didn't see it as clearly as I do now. When I signed with the University of Florida it wasn't about playing time...I felt like I fit in there and I loved that university Then I started to realize they aren't that deep at defensive end."

It is one step at a time for Johnson who wants to make a difference on a team that is poised to try and defend it's national title from 2008.

"Everyone's main goal is to make it on the field as a starter," he said. "I want to just help the team and be the best I can be at my position and whatever I do on the football field. I want to keep my grades up, help the team, and bring home a national championship."

Whatever happens, don't expect Johnson to be scared when he gets his first snap as a rush end. He will most likely test the guy across from him to see what he can handle.

"Even though I am considered undersized for my position, I like to come off first thing and bust somebody in the mouth," Johnson said. "I want to see how hard they are on the first play. I know if they are tentative, then I am coming at them the whole game and I know they can't touch me. It's over."

He got the toughness from his mother. Johnson laughed when he thought about how stone faced his mom would be when her boy leaves for college. Deep down he knows she will be sad, but no way does she let him see that.

"My mom is a tough woman," he said. "She is a single mother and raised four kids. She rarely shows her emotions. When I leave she will probably show her emotions, but she isn't going to show them to me. She is the toughest person I have known in my life. She prepared me to be a man."

When he does leave for school, Johnson will already have some friends to hang with from his 2009 recruiting class.

"I talk to Gary Brown sometimes and talk to Jon Bostic, too," he said. "Bostic just tells me to keep in shape and have my head straight. He said it is no joke, so don't come in playing around."

Look for him to be two days later than his classmates. There is a small technicality he has to cross in order to enroll, but it is something that is done and just waiting on the red tape to clear.

"I am qualified as far as the Clearinghouse," he said. "Nobody told me I had to take the writing part of the SAT for the University of Florida. I just took it and I will be arriving two days late because of when the score comes in. They said I don't even need to pass the writing part, I just need a grade for it for the school. I am just ready to get in the weight room and into the conditioning and stuff."

...and waiting to make a difference for another national title run for the Florida Gator football team.


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