D3 ready to be the guy

No freshman in recent years at SMU entered with as much hype and expectations among fans as wide receiver Darius Johnson. But last year wasn't the season that Johnson or others expected. As spring fast approaches, the freshman reflects on what he learned with PonyStampede.com.

No freshman in recent years at SMU entered with as much hype and expectations among fans as wide receiver Darius Johnson last season.

While 11 receptions and a touchdown are decent numbers for a D1 freshman, Johnson's season last year was not exactly what he and others expected.

It started with a broken collar bone against Stephen F. Austin, that sidelined him for four games. Then after two sub par performances against Houston and Navy, Johnson recorded action in only one game out of the next five. He was suspended/demoted for violation of team rules.

"I learned last year that I can't take anything for granted," said Johnson to PonyStampede.com. "I can't do the same stuff that I did in high school. In practice, I can't be lazy. It doesn't work. It took some time to figure things out, but with Coach June Jones he is going to push you."

Johnson was able to figure things out and returned to the practice field for significant reps in preparation of Nevada. He only recorded one catch in the Hawaii bowl, but it was his time on the practice field that did wonders for the freshman entering into this season.

As the 2010 spring football season approaches, there are not many players fans are more curious about than Johnson. With the departure of go-to receiver Emmanuel Sanders, the Hightower product is often the one expected to pick up most of the load for the future NFL receiver.

"I feel that I can be the guy, but I don't really feel any pressure or anything. I'm not focused on breaking any of his records or anything like that," stated Johnson to PonyStampede.com. "My goals this spring are to establish a better relationship with the receivers and Kyle."

The Mustangs will take the practice field for the first time this spring on Monday, but for Johnson his work has been a process over this whole off-season. He has reportedly put on ten pounds of muscle and feels that his speed and quickness have increased.

"This off-season has been really good. I have just been in the weight room trying to gt stronger and faster," said the freshman. "We were running routes a couple days ago and I was barely running and covering a lot of ground, so I definitely feel faster."

After taking a little time off this off-season from passing routes, Johnson, the receivers, and Kyle are back at again, working to establish better timing.

"Kyle and I worked out a lot this winter. I'm excited to get back out their on the field."

PonyStampede.com will be excited to see him out there as well.


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