C.J. Knows

Rebel junior Defensive End C.J. Johnson knows exactly what Wide Receiver Laquon Treadwell is going through and what he will have to endure in the coming months. Why? He had the same injury and subsequent surgery a year ago that Quon had Saturday night.

It was gruesome looking - Laquon Treadwell's broken foot/ankle - and hard to watch, for anyone, but particularly for DE C.J. Johnson, who had the same type of injury over a year ago.

His thoughts immediately went to his fallen teammate and the ordeal of rehab/comeback he faces.

"If anybody can overcome this and come back like he was or even better, it is Quon. He's one of the toughest guys on our team," Johnson noted. "He's really strong, he works and he is the type who will get through it."

For C.J., the toughest part to overcome when he was making his comeback was on the mental side.

"The mental side of it is the toughest part. You are off the foot for so long, it's almost like you are learning to walk and run all over again," he continued. "There's also some pain involved. It's a challenge, but I know he will be up for it and I know we will be there to support him."

It took C. J. "a while" to get back to being himself.

"In spring ball, it came around a little bit, but it wasn't until early in the season when I started to become myself again," Johnson added. "There are days when it just hurts and days when it feels fine. You have to learn to take the good with the bad and keep rehabbing it every day."

During the early stages of his comeback, there were two physical issues to deal with.

"It was strength and mobility, but Laquon's body is a lot different from mine. I'm a little stiff to begin with. Laquon is real athletic and he hs a real strong build and is a strong person. I don't think he will have major problems coming back because of who he is and how I know he will attack it," Johnson said.

Johnson was philosophical about the close-and-almost loss to Auburn.

"You just have to get over it after Sunday and put it out of your system," he said. "We have to get back after it this week. We can't dwell on it after Sunday. I have to admit, that one hurt, it hurt bad, but. . . "

The Rebel defense, in three short weeks, gone from giving up zero yards on the ground to Tennessee to over 250 rushing yards the past two weeks.

"Against LSU, it took us some time to adjust. They were hitting us in the 'A' gaps pretty hard and with the stretch play," he assessed. "Then we adjusted and stopped it for most of the second half, but on their last drive, we just couldn't get into what we like to be in and we couldn't stop them.

"Last Saturday, we just weren't fitting right. I think their movement and different formations got to us a little bit."

C.J., being on of the team leaders, had some strong words for his teammates in the Sunday afternoon meeting.

"I kind of challenged everybody because the last two weeks just hasn't been us. We have to get back to doing what we do on defense and I think this weekend will be a good opportunity to get back in our rhythm," Johnson stated.

"Finish strong" will be the mantra for the defense and the team.

"We can't worry about what has happened. There are a lot of things that can still happen, but we have to remain on the path of one day at a time - that's the focus right now," C.J. insisted. "We will miss Quon for sure - he's a great player, but we will have other guys who will step up and fill in. Other guys will get a chance and I believe they will come through for the team."

At 7-2, even with two heart-ripping losses, Johnson is very proud of his team.

"I was here for the 2-10 season and losing to Louisiana Tech at homecoming. To see how far we have come in a short amount of time, and to know we still aren't satisfied, it speaks to the kind of guys we have in the locker room," he closed. "We just have to keep fighting hard and keep digging, keep fighting."

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