SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 7

The Pony Stampede staff will be at every SMU fall camp practice this month and will provide exclusive stories, videos, and observations. Today we reflect on Day 7.

Johnson Ready To Make Plays In Starting Role

By EJ Holland

SMU may not have been able to pull off the upset of the year without Jeremy Johnson. In his first college start at No. 20 TCU, he hauled in six passes for 69 yards and one touchdown, which went on to be the game-winner in overtime.

But the play almost never happened. According to Johnson, fellow slot receiver Darius Johnson was supposed to be the main target in crunch time.

"As far as the touchdown, it was really DJ. We were supposed to switch on that play, but he told me not to switch," Johnson said. "He told me that it was my time to shine. I really appreciate him being there for me."

Johnson's glory was short-lived as he returned to bench the following week when Cole Beasley came back from injury. But sitting behind Beasley, who is now with the Dallas Cowboys, truly benefited Johnson, a converted high school quarterback.

"Cole Beasley was a great player. He just taught me all the in and outs of the offense," Johnson said. "If you do all the little things right, then you can be successful. That's what I picked up the most from him."

With Beasley gone, it's now time for Johnson to shine again. He has been a popular pick to be a breakout player this season thanks to his pure athleticism. As a senior at Tyler John Tyler, Johnson compiled close to 4,000 yards of total offense and scored 40 touchdowns.

Johnson still prides himself in carrying that ‘Cujo Nation' swagger and has a confident demeanor that will allow him to thrive under pressure just like he did when his number was called against TCU.

"I just know when it's my time to do my job, I'll do it. Whenever the ball comes my way, I'm just going to make plays," Johnson said. "I'm just glad to be out there with the rest of the guys. We expect to do big things."

This summer, Johnson worked on getting faster but also developed some early chemistry with SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

"I really worked on my speed and route running. It can never be enough though because I always want to be better than I am," Johnson said. "I was in the stadium running sleds and running routes with Garrett to get our timing down. I think he's a great athlete. He puts it on the money all the time."

With Gilbert at the helm and new wide receivers coach Jason Phillips barking orders, the 6-foot, 175-pound slot receiver has seen the intensity pick significantly at fall camp practices.

"Fall camp has been going great. Coach Phillips has really gotten on us about working everyday," Johnson said. "He holds us accountable and really pushes us. He doesn't want us to be comfortable because he always wants us to get better."

Johnson explained that he wants be a threat and playmaker for the Mustangs but helping his team win football games will always be his top priority.

"I just want to get wins," he said. "That's all I care about."

Video: S Jay Scott Talks About His Fall Camp Experience

SMU Wide Receiver Transitioning Well

By Beionny Mickles

One of the most vital positions in June Jones' Run N' Shoot offense is the slot. This is evident by how both slot receivers, Darius Johnson and Cole Beasley, led the team in receptions and yards last year.

Lining up in the slot behind Johnson now is former Abilene (TX ) quarterback Ronnell Sims, who says he has eased into the slot role quite well so far.

"Coming out of high school, I knew I was going to be in the slot. I'm 5-foot-5, 5-foot-6 so I knew that's what I was going to play if I didn't play defense," Sims said. "But this offense is great. The slot gets the ball a lot. The inside is more for the quick, shifty guys so it fits me perfectly."

Sims, who quarterbacked Abilene to a state championship his junior year, says he has developed a great feel for the offense and knows most of it pretty well. Coverages especially were easy for him to grasp because of his former position, however, learning to catch the ball while moving at full speed was another story.

"The toughest transition was catching the ball. I wasn't used to catching it on the run so when I first got in here I couldn't catch anything at all," Sims said.

As time has progressed Sims says that he's become comfortable with bringing in passes and is doing a pretty good job at hauling in the pigskin. Sims says although he won't start in the slot for the Mustangs, he thinks he's put himself in a good position to get some touches during the season.

One of the biggest storylines for Sims coming into SMU was the fact that he came in alongside his high school teammate Darius Joseph, who is also playing wide receiver for the Mustangs. Sims says that he really values the relationship that he holds with Joseph, and that it's great to have someone that he can talk to on and off the field.

"It's great. Not many players get to play with somebody from their same high school team," Sims said. "He's like a brother to me. We're both here for each other. I can go to him and be able to talk to him about whatever I need, not just on the field but off the field. It's great to have somebody you know from back home to come with you to college."

Day 7 Observations:

- Visitors at todays practice included Jarvis Baxter, Jesse Brubaker, K.D. Cannon, Hendrick Ekpe and more

- The kicking game was on display today. Chase Hover went 3 for 5 with both misses going wide left from long range

- Who will be returning punts has be a question asked by many SMU fans. It seems the three candidates are James Richardson, Kenneth Acker and Ryan Smith

- Keenan Holman was praised throughout practice for his running blocking. Holman id a lot of this in high school and should do a nice job of sealing off corners this season

- NFL scouts from the Broncos, Giants, and Seahawks were at today's practice. All of them paid close attention to Margus Hunt.

- Shakiel Randolph showed his athleticism during 7-on-7 drills when leaped and picked off Garrett Krstich pass that was intended for Daijuan Stewart

- Richardson got beat deep by Der'Rikk Thompson for the first time in a scrimmage today. Thompson didn't come down with the ball because of pass interference by Richardson.

- During 11-on-11 drills, GA Timmy Chang worked closely with both Garrett Gilbert and Conner Preston. He gave them pointers on their drop backs and reads

- Gilbert has begun to develop quite the rapport with his slot receivers. He threw a very nice ball to Jeremy Johnson up the seem perfectly. He was rewarded with a "Good Ball!" from Chang

- Krstich picked up a blitz and hit Gehrig Dieter on a hot read. Dieter made a nice catch as the ball was thrown low

- Kenneth Acker intercepted Gilbert today on a deep pass and ran back yelling "I'm here Gilbert!"

- Drops were finally down today however, Thompson and Ryan Walker both dropped perfect passes during the 11-on-11 scrimmage.

- Bobby Waid took reps with the 2nd team today in for still injured receiver Stephen Nelson

- Taylor Reed laid a hit on Zach Line at the line of scrimmage which drew much praise from the defense

- The defensive line got a considerable amount of pressure on the quarterbacks today.

-The offensive line didn't look too good. June Jones looked like he was getting a little irritated/frustrated with them and specifically got angry at Ben Gottschalk

- OL Ben Hughes did not practice due to a strained back. He suffered the injury in the weight room

- Neal Burcham once again wore a black sleeve and it is unclear what his injury is. He did not practice

- Freshmen A.J. Justice and Christian Chamagua continue to sit out with hamstring issues

- Nelson says he is feeling good but is still not practicing due to a hyperextended knee

- The Mustang Band practiced as the team practiced today which made it really feel like college football was in the air

- Quote of the Day: After Darius Johnson caught a ball he put an incredible move on Brett Haness and made him topple over. Following the play a reporter said: "Haness just got taken out of his cleats!"

Staff Reports

Pony Stampede Top Stories