HOUSTON—Wearing a navy, silver pinstriped suit with navy alligator shoes and a classic "KU" ball cap, Moderick Johnson gushed about Kansas during an exclusive interview with Phog.net on Wednesday.
A two-year starter at this northeast Houston school, which has produced ex-Texas defensive end Cory Redding and former Texas A&M running back Tiki Hardeman, Johnson tallied 33 receptions for 607 yards and four touchdowns last fall.
He also runs a 4.46 and is a member of National Honor Society.
Phog.net: Congratulations on your decision to attend Kansas, why did you pick the Jayhawks?
Johnson: "The atmosphere was great. I seriously feel there's about to be a turnout up in Lawrence. I see the program making a 180-degree change. I just want to be a dynamic part of it. I'll make some big plays and be a key factor for them."
Phog.net: What are your thoughts on Coach Mangino?
Johnson: "He's a great person. I feel he thinks the world of me and I think the world of him. Everyone keeps telling me he's a great coach. Guys from Arizona are also telling me that. If you got coaches and players from other teams telling me that, then there's got to be something good about him."
Phog.net: What did you like most about him?
Johnson: "He's always smiling. When I went on my visit to Kansas, Coach Mangino was actually watching Benny Swain (a Houston signee) and I at the bowling alley. He was cheering me on, saying, ‘Go big Mo, Go big Mo.'" Everybody was cheering us on. It was a family atmosphere and that's what I have here at North Shore. We're all a family. We're all brothers and we look at each other equally. We push each other on to get better and never, never get down on anybody."
Phog.net: What your opinion of Kansas' offensive attack?
Johnson: "The fact they throw it is appealing, because I'm coming from a running type of offense. I'm ball hungry. I want to make plays for my team. With them throwing the ball a lot and great players already there, I'm anxious. I feel this coaching staff is about to make an explosion."
Phog.net: What were your impressions of Lawrence?
Johnson: "It's gonna be a little colder than Houston. In fact, I've never even seen snow. I'm trying to get away from home and see new things. It's a small town, but it's nice, real nice. The people there are behind KU 110 percent."
Phog.net: Has the coaching staff talked to you about playing as a true freshman?
Johnson: "Yeah, I don't think I'll be redshirting next season. They want me to play in a hurry. I know I'll be playing, but I'm coming up there to start as a freshman. I'm leaving in June and getting after it right away."
Phog.net: How do you feel about playing in the Big 12?
Johnson: "It's the second-best conference in the nation, that's how I feel. The SEC comes first, but there's hardly anything that can beat the Big 12's competition. Anywhere you go, there's going to be competition in the Big 12. We've just got to work hard to move up."
Phog.net: What are your expectations for next season?
Johnson: "Truthfully, I envision being a freshman All-American. Breaking records and getting a little publicity, but I'm more concerned with winning some games and getting to a bowl game this coming season. That's my goal for this year. I want help KU get to a bowl game and win it."
Phog.net: Houston is obviously a hotbed for football talent. How important is it for you to represent the city?
Johnson: "I want to be the trendsetter for Houston. At first, people were like ‘You're going to Kansas? Why?'" All they knew about Kansas is Dorothy and Toto, but I'm gonna change that. They'll be saying, ‘Dang, Mo knew something.' I want to open that pipeline from Houston to Kansas. Hopefully, my decision will make a couple other guys from Houston choose Lawrence."
Phog.net: What's your biggest strength on the football field?
Johnson: "My size, point-blank. I don't have the blazing speed like some other guys. My size intimidates some players right off the line. I use my separation skills well to stay away from defenders and still make the catch."
Phog.net: Do you have any weaknesses?
Johnson: "I need a little more strength. That's why I'm leaving in the summer. I'm trying to get up there with Coach Smith, the strength and conditioning coach, and I'm gonna be in his face everyday, trying to put on some extra pounds and throw up a little more weight."
Phog.net: Looks like everybody's waiting on you to sign. Again, congratulations and good luck. We'll see you in Lawrence.
Johnson: "Thanks. Go ‘Hawks."