Happy to be Back

USC wide receiver Ronald Johnson returned to action last week against Notre Dame and had a catch in USC's 34-27 victory over the Irish, but the junior had his welcome back party last night in front of 89,718 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Welcome back Ronald Johnson, you arrived at just the right time.

The junior wide receiver has a unique passion for the game of football and is often described as one of the hardest working players on the team, so it was no surprise that he was itching to get back on the field, after missing the first five games of the season with a broken collarbone.

Johnson returned to action last week against Notre Dame and had a catch in USC's 34-27 victory over the Irish, but the junior had his welcome back party last night in front of 89,718 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

"Ronald had a great night and he is officially back," Pete Carroll said after USC's 42-36 victory.

The speedy wide receiver showed his big play ability early in the second quarter by making a spectacular diving catch in the front corner of the end zone to reel in a 22-yard touchdown from Matt Barkley.

"I just beat the guy with speed and the ball was a bit over there, so I had to give up my body to get it," Johnson said. "It felt good."

After the score Johnson quickly jumped to his feet, threw his arms in the air and received a loud ovation from the home crowd.

"All I could do was thank God once I caught it," he said. "I put my arms in the air as a statement that I am blessed to be out there."

Not only did the touchdown reception show that Johnson was ready to reclaim his role as the true deep threat that USC has sorely lacked, but it answered all questions about his durability.

"Getting that first touchdown, it slipped my mind," Johnson said of his collarbone injury. "I feel perfect."

"I feel like I could go for days. I just can't wait for the next game and the game after that. I'm having fun."

Johnson, a fiercely competitive wideout, was unhappy with his lack of production against Notre Dame a week earlier, and said he felt a sense of relief after finding his way into the end zone Saturday night.

"It was a relief, it felt like all of the pressure was off," Johnson said. "It has been so long, since the Rose Bowl."

In just his second game back from injury, Johnson looked to be back to his old form, stretching the Oregon State defense en route to racking up a team-high 99 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches.

"Everyone was telling me, ‘Oh you're finally back, you're back,' so I felt like I was missed a lot," he said.

Johnson was certainly missed as the Trojans' struggled earlier in the season to come up with big plays in the passing game and critics complained that the offense was too conservative and even predictable.

David Ausberry was never able to take hold of the No.2 receiver spot and plans to have freshman DeVon Flournoy fill in for Johnson were quickly scrapped.

But now with Johnson at full strength the Trojans once again have one of the top receiver tandems in the country in Damian Williams and Ronald Johnson.

"There is a threat on both sides," Johnson said. "Damian is going be open and do what he has to do on the other side, so I have to help him out."


Ronald Johnson had 6 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown Saturday night. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)


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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com



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