An Interview With Josh Johnson

Most Gamecock fans are probably under the impression that Josh Johnson came out of nowhere late in the recruiting season. He was an unknown? Someone who we discovered late in the process and decided to offer once Doug Langenfeld appeared to be waivering. But that could not be farther from the truth ...

We have to admit that communicating with Josh Johnson is similar to trying to hold a conversation with someone from Sweden. You can't understand a word they are saying. That's because he's not really Floridian, although he has lived there for the past ten years. Josh's verbal roots lie in his birthplace, Cajun country just outside of New Orleans. And he's got the accent to prove it trust us.

We spoke to his mother, (Patricia Johnson) and his father (Lawrence Johnson) first to get their feelings about Josh signing with the Gamecocks.

"I think it's fantastic ... we're real excited," began Patricia. "He's a good kid ... never had any discipline problems with him at all. He will be a good person for South Carolina. We could not be happier with his final decision."

Dad, Lawrence added, "I was happy that he chose South Carolina after he visited South Carolina. I really wanted Josh to go away from home for school. Carolina is eight hours away so that's close enough for us to go to all of Josh's games ... it's perfect for us and for him most of all."

And Patricia wanted to let everyone know, "He'll qualify ... he has good test scores and good grades."

So then we asked how it came to be that Josh was recruited by South Carolina? How did it happen?

Patricia explained, "South Carolina had been watching him since his spring practices from last year. Coach Phillips attended several of his spring practices last year. When Coach Phillips left we didn't know what was going to happen because we didn't hear from anybody for awhile ... but then we realized it was the dead period."

"Coach Reaves (graduate assistant) made the first contact call after Coach Phillips left, then Coach Skip came down and visited and everything was back on track."

Lawrence Johnson backed that up by saying, "Joker was down here right on top of Josh for a long time. We didn't know what the deal was when he left ... but then Skip came down and got everything going again. South Carolina had been involved with Josh since late in his junior year so we were glad that they stuck with him and everything worked out in the end the way that it did."

What position did the coaches tell him he would play Patricia? Do you remember?

"Oh yes. As far as we know he'll be a defensive end. He played DE and DL in high school plus he played some middle linebacker, tight end, stuff like that. He's 6-5 240 ... but they expect him to grow some more, and he is expecting that too. I think his forty time is around 4.7, which they tell is good."

How about other offers Patricia? Do you remember what other schools recruited him hard or made official offers?

"A lot of schools were interested but he was always a strong lean to South Carolina and he would tell people that. As far as official offers ... Connecticut, Michigan State, Iowa State, South Florida ... they all offered him. But he chose South Carolina because of the coaches there ... the quality of coaching."

Lawrence took the opportunity to talk recruiting by adding, "Our other son Justin is an offensive lineman, he's a good ballplayer too at East Bay. I think he'll get some division one offers too. He'll be a senior next year. He's not quite as tall as Josh yet but he is still growing. He's 6-3ish now but a lot more muscular and thicker than Josh was at that age."

Patricia couldn't wait to tell us, "Josh was All-Conference Western Conference first team here in Central Florida ... plus he played in the Hillsboro County All-Star game where he was the defensive end starter and named the MVP of the game."

Dad Lawrence got in the last of the parent's comments about Josh by telling us, "Josh loves the game. He understands that in order to be good you have to be in shape ... he knows the importance of the weight room. Tomorrow is his last basketball game and then we are going to get Josh involved with the weight program for the new signees. Josh is looking forward to coming up early and working out with all the guys in Columbia I think. We'll see. That's what I want him to do anyway. The main thing is that he is really a good overall athlete. He has great feet and hands and there is no limit to what Coach Holtz can help him to become. You are getting a good kid."

Then It Was Josh's Turn

Note: The following is a literal translation. We had no cajun interpreters in the office at the time of the interview so we did the best we could by asking him to repeat himself over and over again.

Josh, who were your main offers? Which ones did you give the most consideration to?

"Michigan State and USF. Coach Phillips came to the school one day and told me they had decided to offer. ... the only reason I was really considering USF (The University of Southern Florida in Tampa) is because they are close to home and they signed a lot of my friends like the QB off of my high school team JB Garris, the WR off of my All-Star team SJ Green, and the RB off of my All-Star team Tray Williams."

How big are you? What is your size, speed, things like that? Your best attributes as a football player in your opinion? What are you bringing to the table for the Gamecocks?

"6-5 235/240 and I run a 4.7 I don't know exactly because I haven't actually weighed in a long time and I can get faster than that. I wasn't really worried about forty times until recently so I never really concentrated on speed. My 4.7 time is all natural ability but I can do better."

"My speed off the ball is my best asset. I like to get to the quarterback in a hurry. I want to be known as a great pass rusher off the end in college and that's what I am going to work to be."

What about the loss of Joker Phillips? How did it affect you at the time?

"When Coach Phillips left Coach Skip stepped in and I quit thinking about Michigan State after that. Until Coach Skip visited it was even between Michigan State and South Carolina."

How are your grades? Your Mom tells us you have no problems in that area.

"I had a 71 on my cumulative ACT score so that is plenty high enough. I'm waiting on my American History grade but I think I'll be fine. I am going to qualify no problem but I wish I had thought more about this when I was a freshman and I guarantee you I would not have even let it be close."

What did Skip tell you as far as plans for which position you are going to play? You could be a tight end or defensive end either one correct?

"The coaches told me they are going to put some weight on me and make me into a SEC defensive end. I would like to redshirt this year if at all possible and get used to playing at that level and learn the system a little bit. They told me I could redshirt if I wanted to and I do. I think that is the smart move for me. It will give me a chance to learn their system and get used to the game at that level."

What was it like being recruited like you were this year? Was it like you thought it would be?

"I never really thought about college and recruiting and all that stuff too much. I never thought I would actually play college ball. But then around my junior year there started to be talk about scouts in the stands and things like that, but it's all been kind of a whirlwind to me."

What did you like about South Carolina the most on your visit?

"South Carolina has a really nice campus. I sat down and talked with Coach Holtz and he is a good guy. I just liked the people there and stuff like that. I don't know, it just felt right to me. I came away knowing that it was the best place for me for some reason I really can't explain. I just went with my heart. It was probably after sitting down with Coach Holtz and actually talking to him. He is a legend and he is a really good speaker."

We kidded around with Josh because of his heavy Cajun accent (he was born and raised in New Orleans before moving to Florida) and asked him if he was going to get Coach Holtz to help him with his speaking?

He laughed and said, "No sir, I wasn't really planning on that."

At that point Josh wanted to let everyone know that he has a younger brother who just turned 16 years old and he is 6-3 240 already. He'll be a senior in high school next year and already has some colleges looking at him. We told him his dad had mentioned that but that we would pass the word along from him as well.

So when did South Carolina actually come in and offer? A lot of Gamecock fans are under the impression that you did not receive your offer until January.

"South Carolina offered early during the football season - our second game I think it was."

Your Dad tells us you are quite the all-around athlete. What other sports do you play?

"I play basketball ... I'm the starting three guard on my basketball team. But sometimes I like to swing down low to crash the boards just to show them that I can come inside and takeover in the paint if they dare me to."

"I started on my varsity football team for three years. 1st year we went 5-5. 2nd year we went 7-4 and went to the playoffs. My senior season we went 8-3 and to the playoffs again."

"I made the Hillsboro County All-Star team. We had an East vs West game and played the game at Raymond-James Stadium where the Gamecocks played their Outback Bowl games. I was named Defensive Player of the game in that All-Star game and I had two and a half sacks and something like seven or eight tackles."

Are you planning on coming up to Columbia early to workout with the team?

"I'm not going up until August the 3rd to start working out with the team. That's the latest we can report and I think I'll stick around with my family and visit with them until then. After that I'll focus on nothing but college football and my studies at USC but I don't want to leave my family and little brother until the last minute because there is no telling when the next time I will see them will be."

Anything you want to pass along to the Gamecock fans that will be reading this at

"Not really. Just that I am looking forward to it and I have heard a lot of great things about the fans up there. I'll do my best to never disappoint them."

That's all we'll ever ask Josh. Welcome to the family.

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