Johnson Eager to Anchor Jones' Blind Side

NORMAN, Okla. — Out goes veteran tackle Donald Stephenson and in comes Lane Johnson from right to left to protect quarterback Landry Jones' blind side.

A tall task, keeping No. 12 clean, but one he is fully capable of.

"He did a good job last year of playing right tackle, so you know you've got that trust factor there and then he had Donny in front of him," Jones said. "You couldn't just not put those guys on the field and Donny's been left tackle ever since he's kinda been here, but now Lane's switching over to the other side.

"He's gonna do a great job. He's probably one of the more athletic guys on our team, so he's going to do a good job over there."

It's certainly a heavy dose of confidence hearing that from your Heisman hopeful signal caller.

But in all reality, Johnson shouldn't need that much praise to know he can get the job done.

At 6-foot-6, 296 pounds, he's shifted around from position to position, even worked at tight end and defensive end in 2011 before moving back to the offensive line for the 2011 season.

There, he started 12 of OU's 13 games a year ago, recording a season-high 10 knockdowns in a contest at Lawrence, Kan.

The only game he didn't play: OU's home-opener against Tulsa.

And he earned Academic All-Big 12 first team honors.

So, Johnson is a senior with veteran experience, has a firm grasp of OU's offense due to playing several different positions and even seeing things from the other side of the ball and he knows how to apply his smarts to the game.

That has allowed him to pick up some of the changes.

"Yeah, pretty much, I mean, the stance sometimes [is different]," Johnson said. "I know I was playing right that my left leg was getting a whole lot stronger and just kinda when you switch the limb, it's kinda a balance issue. But I feel comfortable now, had a great offseason and feel comfortable at it now."

Because of that, in essence, it's his job to lose.

But he doesn't necessarily see it that way.

"This is my goal, go out there and compete every day in spring," Johnson said. "No job's solid right now. That's what spring's about, competing and earning your spot."

He'll have the rest of spring, plus summer and fall camp to do that, but as mentioned he won't have to convince Jones about him.

"I mean, I trust him," Jones said. "I mean, I don't really have to talk to the coaches about him. They know what he can do and they know what he's capable of."

And they know that Johnson really likes the challenge of taking care of his man's back.

"He's on the blind side? I figured Lane would [like that]," Jones joked. "Like you said, he's big, he's lanky, strong. I mean, he's really got all the tools that you want over there. So, now he just needs to get his technique down and get rolling a little bit."

When he does and Ben Habern returns at center, the left side of the line will be loaded with Johnson and left guard Gabe Ikard.

That's for sure.

Follow me at or

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories