Call him Mars. Call him Keesh. Call him M.J. But most importantly, call him a Red Raider.
Sophomore junior college transfer Marquis Johnson is looking to make an impact running routes for Texas Tech over the next three seasons. He initially signed with UT out of high school but ended up having to take the junior college route.
He handled his second round of recruiting differently than the first, and chose Texas Tech over other Big XII schools Missouri, Kansas State, Utah, Alabama and Baylor.
"I chose Tech because of the atmosphere and the opportunity to play for a Big XII program, and an up and coming running program with a bunch of great coaches and players," he said.
UT kept up with Johnson, but the coaches who initially recruited him moved on to other positions, so the rapport was gone.
Coming to Texas Tech was a no-brainer for the Champaign, Illinois native.
Johnson plans to major in business and has an interest in real estate.
"Texas Tech speaks for itself academically. It's one of the best schools in the country. I had a successful JUCO career academically, so I already know I'll get the job done."
Coming into a new program has presented a few challenges. Johnson cites the precise technique required to excel at wide receiver as a significant hurdle he has faced.
"Polishing the route- putting moves on the defense. That's what I've been working on. I was a real shuffler before, and now I'm getting cuts down," he added.
"I can see a difference from the first day I came out here and today. If I can see a difference, that's a big step forward for me."
The 6-2, 225 Hutchinson City College transfer has added fifteen to twenty pounds of muscle since high school, and working with Strength and Conditioning Coach Bennie Wylie has further improved his conditioning.
"Bennie is a great trainer. He has molded me and gotten my mentality right. Working with him the last month and a half has been a big step for me," said Johnson.
Perhaps Johnson's greatest improvement throughout the summer has been endurance. Johnson said that Wylie emphasizes the mental aspect of training in terms of teaching the players how to push the body to run that extra lap or complete that extra rep in the weight room when the body is calling it quits.
Wylie also worked with the receivers on getting off the line. "Getting that ‘bolt it' mentality in our head so when we run our routes we already know what to do- getting in the comfort zone," Johnson added.
Johnson has a few goals for his first season as a Red Raider.
"My number one goal is to learn the system. The coaches know what they're talking about. They have the national records to prove it. Being a sponge and absorbing everything and learning the offense day-by-day. You make mistakes and get back out there and try again."
Several players have already experienced being the newcomers and working their way up through the system. Johnson claims there will be several players who will come out and surprise people- Dwayne Slay, Brandon Douglas, Jarrett Hicks and Sonny Cumbie.
"Brandon Davis has been in the system, and he's a guy that no one really talks about. But he'll do some good things this year. We all know about Jarrett Hicks, and Sonny really knows the system. Learning from these guys will make me a better receiver as well," Johnson concluded.
A few of his favorite things…Johnson is new in town, but has already chosen Rosa's as his favorite eatery. He wanted to talk about his favorite musician as well.
"I'm still a big Tupac fan. He's a poet. I like to listen to his lyrics."
His favorite song is "Me Against the World."
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