Johnson uses special teams to get ready for safety

ATHENS – When Tra Battle returns from spring break he'll likely move back to the starting safety spot he had before a car accident sidelined him.

Battle will be in for an intense competition with rising sophomore Kelin Johnson to keep that spot, however. Johnson, a Florida native used his special teams prowess last season to catch the eye of the coaching staff at Georgia.

"Playing on special teams a lot last year helped me stay disciplined – playing with my hands and feet. It helps you. On special teams you are running down the field so fast and trying to make a play. You run down the field and you have to stay in your gap or in your zone and you don't want to overrun the ball because they can cut back on you. You have to keep the ball inside of you," said Johnson.

It was not long before Johnson started making plays with the number two defense. He nearly returned an interception for a touchdown against Kentucky, but was tackled just short of the end zone. He may have taken some good natured ribbing at the hands of his teammates that day, but the play was a good indication of his skill and his ability to cross his talents over from special teams to regular defense.

"There's more discipline involved on defense than special teams," said Johnson. "On defense you want to go hard, but you have to come to balance and make a play – your standing still sometimes on defense and your always running on special teams."

Johnson will likely remain on many of Georgia's special teams for the 2005 season, including the kickoff coverage team, but fans will really begin to notice him on defense next season.

"It's a learning experience," said Johnson of his time at Georgia. "I've got the whole defense to learn," he added when discussing his time with the first team defense in Battle's absence. "I'm trying to make the most of the opportunity."


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