Johnson on Schedule

There are man hurdles that a player must overcome when coming back from a knee injury. So many, in fact, that many do not ever regain their old form. In the case of Malcolm Johnson, it appears he is on pace to make a full return, which is good news for the Aggies who have pegged him as an immediate contributor candidate.

Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman and his staff have had the difficult task over the past two seasons of rebuilding a program that was depleted in several key areas. Once considered the signature position at Texas A&M in the 1980's and 1990's, linebackers on the famed Wrecking Crew defense were both fast and instinctive, and had a knack for using their speed to get to the ball and disrupt plays. So it came as no surprise that Sherman targeted speed when it came to recruiting the position, and he was delighted to secure the commitment of speed merchant Malcolm Johnson last summer.

"Speed is my biggest asset. Earlier in my career I played receiver and safety so I took that athleticism to the linebacker position," Johnson said. "I had 9 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in six games before the injury."

The injury Johnson referred to was the major knee injury sustained early in game seven when he tore his ACL ligament, something that 10-20 years ago would be a major setback and even possibly career-ending for players where speed is critical. However, with today's surgical advances and rehabilitation techniques, most players are expected back on the field about a year after the injury. According to Johnson, he's right on schedule and feeling good.

"My rehab is going great. I'm ahead of schedule. My doctor released me for weight lifting and running without any limitations," Johnson said. "I go back in 2-3 weeks and if all goes well he should give me the green light for full contact."

Although getting a release by the doctor for unlimited activity is a big milestone in a player's recovery, it is not the end of the process. Most players at the collegiate and pro level still need up to a year to fully regain the speed and flexibility back.

"I'd say the knee is about 85% of where it used to be," Johnson said. "While it will be structurally healed this summer and I can practice with the team, the doctor said it would be November before I'll be 100% in terms of speed."

The good news for Johnson is that he'll have a clean bill of health to start working out with his teammates in College Station this summer and he's fully expected to participate in August two-a-days which begins the learning process for all true freshmen so he won't fall behind the learning curve.

"I'm looking forward to this new chapter in my life," Johnson said. " It's sad to know that I'm saying goodbye to many friends here at Klein Collins as we graduate, but I'm also excited to start my collegiate life both on the field and at the university."

Johnson plans to room with fellow freshman teammates Andrew Weaver, Jonathan Stewart, and Christine Michael, and he's expected to arrive in College Station on June 13, a week after his high school graduation.

"I can't wait to get up there and settle in with my teammates and get to work," Johnson said. "We have a workout plan and we'll focus on that when we get there, but we don't start class until July 6 so that gives us a few weeks to get comfortable. After that, it's August two-a-days."

Johnson indicated that the coaches have him designated for the weakside outside linebacker spot, and despite the recovery the coaches have told him that if he comes in focused and competing hard for a job, he'll be given a fair shot at playing as a freshman.

"We'll see how it goes," Johnson said. "If I earn playing time, I'll play. If not, I'll keep learning and improving, and I'll wait for my time. I'm excited just to get out there and compete again."

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