Petre Thomas

Ole Miss LB Terry Caldwell set to step in for injured C.J. Johnson

Terry Caldwell spent all of spring training at Stinger Linebacker, but in August LB Coach Dave Wommack felt he might need Terry in the middle and moved him. Dave was prophetic.

With the recent news that C.J.Johnson has torn a lateral meniscus and will be out "4-6 weeks," Caldwell, a JUCO transfer from Northwest who came to Ole Miss last January, will get the nod at middle linebacker and will be backed up by Christian Russell.

He says he is ready for the challenge.

"I feel great about it. I am sorry C.J. is hurt, but he has taught me well. He is a phenomenal player and he is also a guy who has helped me get ready a lot," said Caldwell. "I know I have big shoes to fill, but I have watched him closely and hopefully I can fill his shoes and do a great job for my team."

Caldwell's confidence is apparent, but he expresses it humbly and softly.

"I know I have the tools to play on this level. I have a phenomenal coach in Coach Wommack," he continued. "I am reading things quicker and reacting quicker. He has gotten me more comfortable with this defense.

"The biggest thing in moving from JUCO to this level is learning the system. It's more complex. Now that I have everything down, I'm good to go. Things started slowing down for me a couple of weeks into fall camp. I have spent a lot to time in the film room with Coach Wommack and I've always been a guy who took pride in being ready. I will be ready Saturday."

Caldwell said whatever issues the defense has had to this point can be cured if everyone just does their job and quits making mistakes.

"It's about playing clean football. The system is there, we just have to execute it. Everyone on this level has great players," he said. "It's the team that plays with the fewest mistakes that wins.

"Look at the win over Alabama - we led 5-0 in turnovers. Then the loss at Florida - we were 0-4 in turnovers. We cut out the mistakes and we will be lethal, I think."

Caldwell feels he is best suited for modern football.

"I think the great big LBs are giving way to the fast guys like me. I can go sideline to sideline and make plays, which I intend to do starting Saturday," he closed. "All I have to do is stay focused and carry out my assignments and I am confident I will do that."

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