Johnson Motivated by the Loss of Grandfather

Stafon Johnson arrived on the USC campus ranked as the second best high school running back in the nation by Scout.com. Johnson, an elite tailback from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, appeared to be stepping into the perfect situation.

Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and his backfield partner Lendale White had once again made the running back spot the glamour position at Tailback U. And with the early departure of Bush and White following the 2005 season, the competition at running back was wide open.

But instead of stepping in and becoming an immediate impact player, Stafon Johnson struggled with his assignments on the practice field and seemed to lack the motivation needed to be a premiere college football player.

As the year progressed, Johnson was relegated to the scout team and only got three carries while fellow freshmen C.J. Gable and Emmanuel Moody became integral parts of the Trojan's offense. Gable ended the year with 434 yards rushing with four touchdowns. And Moody gained 458 yards and had two touchdowns.

After last year's difficult freshman year, Johnson has come back this fall as a much more focused player. The main reason for Johnson's transformation was the death of his beloved grandfather. After the passing of his grandfather, who was his biggest supporter, Johnson has vowed to make the most of his opportunities at USC

"Coming back with my grandfather passing, it just made me mature much faster," said Johnson.

Johnson explained that the memory of his late grandfather will be added motivation for him throughout the year. "Everyday I come out and I'm used to seeing him here, and to not see him on the sidelines, it pushes me even more."

During this summer Johnson really pushed himself to become a better player. "I had the best summer workouts since my high school days. My main goal was to just take it to another level… And make my body more durable so I can play the way I want to play," said Johnson.

The year of experience has helped Johnson realize that while playing on a team filled with star players, he must come out focused for every practice and earn his carries. "We all know what's at stake, everything is a competition. You just got to come in day in and day out and compete."

With a renewed dedication to football, Johnson has been one of the Trojans most impressive performers in fall camp and looks poised to honor his late grandfather with a breakout performance in 2007.


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