OL Johnson Excited By MSU Challenge

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers senior Kaleb Johnson wants his last three games to count before he pursues his NFL career. Johnson gets a showcase game Saturday against Michigan State and one of the top defensive lines in the country.

Senior Rutgers lineman Kaleb Johnson does not back down from challenges, and he faces one of the biggest ones in his career Saturday at No. 10 Michigan State.

Johnson returned at left guard for his senior season to represent Rutgers in the Big Ten. He gets a significant opportunity against the Rose-Bowl winning Spartan line.

“I’m interest to see how our program fares against one of the best,” Johnson said. “Me personally, I’m excited to see how our offensive line does against their defensive line and a guy like Shilique Calhoun. He was defensive player of the year last year. If we can go out there and dominate against them, then that’s more confidence going forward.”

Johnson will not see Middletown (N.J.) North’s Calhoun often, but he wants the chance to match up.

“Every chance I get to hit him, I’m going to,” Johnson said. “He’s a great player, and whatever happens, I’m going to be ready for him.”

It will be 75 degrees in Johnson’s hometown Saturday, where East Lansing, Mich. Expects freezing rain. Johnson no longer fears the cold. He was the only starter in shorts for both full Rutgers practices outdoors during the week.

“I’m tough,” Johnson said. “If you’re thinking about being cold, you’re not thinking about being great. It was tough to move in them, and I sweat a lot. I got a lot of body heat, so it’s fine.”

Spartan Stadium is the next in a line of large stadiums for the Scarlet Knights in Big Ten play. It is the first grass game since losing to Notre Dame in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

“I don’t want to get caught up in the venue,” Johnson said. “It’s just another football field. It’s the same size as our field. It’s the same size I’ve always played on. All of my career, I’ve played in some big places and getting caught up in the venue is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. That’s something I’ve adjusted to.”

Rutgers kept starting quarterback Gary Nova sack-free against Indiana. Michigan State averages three sacks per game under coordinator Pat Narduzzi – third in the Big Ten.

“I know that if we do our job and keep Gary upright, he’s going to make some great throws,” Johnson said. “We have to protect him for him to make those throws. I’m confident that he’ll make the big plays if we give him time.”


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