Johnson's time to shine on the d-line

Time is running out on Cephus Johnson's ISU career. Reports out of camp have this season shaping up to be his best, currently Johnson's locked in a three way battle for the No. 1 spot.

For Cephus Johnson it's now or never.


"This is my final year," he said. "I don't have time to sit back and wait and see who's going to make that play or do this and that. It's getting down to the end and I don't want it to pass me by."


Johnson left Palm Beach Gardens High School (Fla.) after a solid career. He was selected to the Florida Class 5A all-state team, a first-team all-conference selection and garnered all-Miami area first-team honors.


He registered 112 tackles, 21 for a loss and tallied 17 sacks, so by the time he arrived at Iowa State great things were expected for Johnson.


In 2001, Johnson's initial freshman season he made four tackles in the season opener against Northern Iowa but suffered an injury resulting in a medical redshirt.


The next season he appeared in five contests registering nine tackles and three quarterback hurries. To date the 2003 campaign has been Johnson's best, he played in all 12 games, starting the first seven and finished with 44 tackles and 10 quarterback hurries.


A season ago Johnson finished with 23 tackles; he suffered a knee injury in the season opener and missed the next three games.


When ISU head coach Dan McCarney was asked if this preseason was the best Johnson had been playing he concurred.


Johnson is currently in a heated battle with Shawn Moorehead and Jason Berryman for a No. 1 spot.


"Competition is hard, that's how it's always been since I've been here," Johnson said. "[It's] very competitive right now. We're still trying to figure out who's going to start and who's going to back up. It's just a matter of going out and competing and going hard every play this week or so and we'll see who gets that spot."


Even with Berryman sitting out last year, Johnson said he hasn't lost a step.


"It seems like he hasn't lost anything," Johnson said. "He's still fast; he's out there. He's competing. It's no slack off whatsoever. He's getting the job done for us."


Last season against the run Iowa State was stupendous and Johnson said the line practices what's been preached to them.


"Basically it was us flying around and getting to the ball," he said. "We stress that a lot in practice. Our coach stresses running to the ball and making plays. That's one of the biggest things, just getting to the ball."


McCarney hinted that Johnson might see some time on the inside.


"He's in the mix with those three guys at rush and end, but he's one of those guys who could move inside," McCarney said. "We're working him a little inside to take a look at him there."

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