Derrick Johnson: Horns 'trying to get in flow'

Last time we checked, SLB <B>Lee Jackson </B>completed his eligibility, MLB <B>Reed Boyd</B>&#146;s jock was still on the Cotton Bowl floor and WLB <B>Derrick Johnson </B>was staking his claim as Texas' greatest linebacker since <B>Tommy Nobis</B>.

Inside Texas caught up with the 2002 Butkus Award semi-finalist after the second day of spring drills Wednesday.

"We’re just trying to get in the flow before we start hitting Friday," Johnson said. "We’re just trying to get everyone comfortable."

Players will have Thursday off before donning pads for the first time this spring, 3:45 p.m., Friday, at Frank Denius Field. The session is open to the public unless inclement weather forces practice inside the "bubble" at the northeast corner of the field.

"We haven’t had pads on yet so I can’t say what we look like right now," Johnson said, "but Friday will start to separate the men from the boys. It’s kind of hard to come out here and go full speed without pads, and that slows us down a little bit. On Friday, we’ll let it loose."

The early sessions are primarily for teaching younger athletes, particularly UT’s top-ranked recruiting class that was loaded with linebackers. But none of the talented yet still wet-behind-the-ear young faces will find a better on-the-field role model than Johnson.

The All-Big 12 selection was the team’s second leading tackler last season with 120 stops, 13 TFLs, 10 QB pressures, 10 PBUs and four picks (tying the best overall INT mark for a Longhorn linebacker).

Johnson was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2001 after ranking second on team and leading all conference freshmen with 83 tackles (57 solo). He was The Sporting News choice for National Freshman of the Year and was Defensive MVP of Texas’ Holiday Bowl win over Washington.

Johnson has recorded eight career double-digit tackle games, including a career best 14 at Kansas State and 10 in Texas' 35-20 Cotton Bowl win over LSU. Texas has won consecutive bowl games for the first time since 1969-70.

"It (bowl wins) plays a big factor in spring training," Johnson said. "Going out as winners always gives you momentum for the next season."

Horns Digest Top Stories