Will Johnson Relishes Spring Work

Will Johnson, one of the Wolverines most experienced interior lineman, spent time meeting with the media after Michigan's Spring Game on April 14 at Michigan Stadium. What did Johnson have to say about his new role with the Michigan football team? After being forced to sit through spring camp last year, did the extra time benefit the former Lake Orion Dragon?

At this time last year, Michigan defensive tackle Will Johnson was recovering from a bout with mono. Forced to watch from the sidelines during spring ball, Johnson saw his potential spot in the starting lineup slip away as fellow '04 commitment Alan Branch turned heads in his new role as an interior lineman.

Now, fast forward 12 months, Johnson is once again poised to make his presence felt in the trenches at Michigan Stadium. Branch, recently drafted by Arizona, is on his way to the NFL, and his spot next to junior-to-be Terrance Taylor is again open for the taking.

"I think I had my best spring ball yet," said Johnson. "I really came a long way as far as technique stuff goes, and coach has been great. We've got a young team, but we all got a lot better everyday so far."

With such a young defense, Johnson, a fourth year senior from Lake Orion, is expected to lead by example on his side of the football this season. While it's a role that Johnson hasn't felt since his days with Lake Orion, the talented tackle is looking forward to his chance.

"All the seniors need to be leaders," the defensive tackle went on. "Especially the ones who have more experience. A lot of the younger guys got experience during spring ball this year, but we still need to be the example."

While coming off the bench last season, Johnson got a chance to see the effects of good leadership first hand. With seniors LaMarr Woodley and Rondell Biggs manning the starting positions at defensive end, Johnson was able to see just how much persistence and hard work can pay off, a lesson he plans to carry with him through the year.

"Of course you take something from that, leadership and hard work," Johnson said on Woodley, Biggs and Alan Branch. "Those were great players and they're going to be great players at the next level. They were hard working players and have great attitudes and it's rubbed off on me. It's something I need to carry with me and show the younger kids."

Along with leadership, Johnson also has increased practice repetitions working in his favor heading into his fourth year in Ann Arbor.

"I'm getting a few more reps now," Johnson said. "But I think the quality of the reps was much better than in past years, and last year I had mono so I couldn't participate in spring ball. I think I've come a long way since last year. Technique wise, I think I'm a lot more prepared. I can read a defense better. I just react now. I don't need to hesitate at all.

"It isn't just me either," Johnson said. "A lot of the young guys that red-shirted last year, they're getting more experience and better with the technical aspects of the game. Tim's (Jamison) real good. I think TT's (Terrance Taylor)coming along real well. Those are two guys I think will make an impact next year. We're going to be a good solid defense."

For more on the Michigan defensive line, check back for GoBlueWolverine's interview with Tim Jamison in the coming days.

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