SMU 2010 preview: Darius Johnson

When the Mustang's 2010 season comes to a close this coming winter, SMU fans will reflect on the great moments and hopefully great victories the season has brought them. One name, however, might be spoken the most. Sophomore Darius Johnson is coming into this season with high expectations and all signs are pointing at him becoming one of SMU's biggest play-makers.

Johnson entered the 2009 season with high hopes. Johnson was a highly sought after recruit out of Hightower High School in Sugar Land, Texas. He chose SMU over programs like Boston College, Houston, Iowa State and North Texas. The 3-star recruit knew that SMU was a program where he could come in and make an immediate impact. His focus was on breaking records and being the go to guy from day one.

At the end of the year, thanks to a broken collar bone in the season-opener and disciplinary issues, Johnson had played in only four games for the Mustangs catching 10 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. A long way from the lofty goals he had set for himself before the season. However, his lone touchdown grab in the season opener against SFA was a remarkable diving catch that showcased his talent and big play ability.

With Emmanuel Sanders gone to the NFL, June Jones will be looking to Johnson, among others, to step up and produce. With Kyle Padron looking poised to have a big year in his first full season starting under center for the Mustangs, Johnson will be seen as one of the guys that can help anchor Jones' pass heavy offense.

Now, Johnson enters the 2010 season with a brand new attitude and more realistic similar goals. "My goals this spring are to establish a better relationship with the receivers and Kyle," Johnson told during spring practice. When asked about his expectations for this coming season and making up for the loss of Sanders he also told, "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."

When Johnson came to SMU he was a lanky 160 lbs. Now he is listed at a bulky 178 lbs. and looks to be growing into a powerful pass catcher.

"This off-season has been really good. I have just been in the weight room trying to get stronger and faster," said Johnson.

With all the hype going into the Mustangs 2010 campaign, don't be surprised if Darius Johnson is one of the bright spots in a program looking to stay on top of Conference USA this fall.

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