Safety First

Kelin Johnson is now in his 3rd season at Georgia, but as the 2006 season approaches, he is a new place, number one on the depth chart in the Free Safety position. Johnson was not heavily recruited when he came to Georgia from Daytona Beach, but now he is holding his own on both defense and on special teams. On Monday he found time to talk to me.

Dave McMahon -- How much conditioning have you been doing since G-Day?

Kelin Johnson -- I have been doing a lot. We do a lot of working out on our own. But now we are running all the time. Sometimes on weekends, too.

DM -- How ready are you for this season to start?

KJ -- I am ready. I still need to polish up on some of my skills, but I am ready.

DM -- Especially now, where you are number one of the depth chart...

KJ -- I look at it as a blessing. I learned a lot from Greg Blue and Thomas Davis. Those were some great players. Also you have to listen to your coach... you do what he says and you will be fine.

DM -- What is the difference between what the Rover does and the Free Safety?

KJ -- There is not much difference. The Rover covers more, but with so many complex offenses and shifts, both positions have to be ready for anything.

DM -- You played a little quarterback in high school, ever dream about throwing a pass in a game?

KJ -- I miss it, but I know my role here. I was recruited here as a free safety and that is what I will play.

DM -- Being from Florida, what Florida schools recruited you?

KJ -- None really until I committed to Georgia. After that Miami was interested and so was Florida State and South Florida.

DM -- Georgia has been getting a lot of recruits from Florida lately, how important is it for Georgia to not only recruit in Georgia, but in other powerhouse states like Florida as well?

KJ -- It is important. Georgia is recruiting guys from everywhere. If you are a good player and are a good person, Georgia is probably looking at you. It helps that we are getting players away from Florida schools too, but they are trying to do the same against us.

DM -- As a freshman you had an Interception against Kentucky... take us back...

KJ -- In that play I saw the tight end drag a little... I also noticed the ball was being overthrown... I jumped and the ball went threw the opponent's hands and I caught it... I ran and ran and then I got hit... right around the 2-yard line.

DM -- Last year the defense had a lot more interceptions than the year before... how much was it that Coach Martinez, a defensive back coach was now also the defensive coordinator?

KJ -- Not to take anything away from Coach VanGorder, but Coach Martinez puts a lot of emphasis on interceptions. We have a lot of drills in practice for interceptions and if we drop the ball or fail to make the interception, we have to do push-ups.

DM -- Describe Coach Martinez...

KJ -- He has a great heart and he is a great motivator. He is very tough, but he is also pretty funny.

DM -- Most players know something about the potential starting 4 defensive backs, but who is another player(s) that Georgia fans should look out for back there?

KJ -- There are a lot of them. C.J. Byrd and Donovan Baldwin are both very physical and love to hit. Ramarcus Brown is very fast. All of the players have a lot of talent.

DM -- Thank you for your time and good luck during the season.

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