Johnson ready to take the next step

Five years after he arrived on the University of Washington campus, CB Derrick Johnson has grown. Going through almost two years of rehab on a foot that some thought might prevent him from even walking normally again would help anyone grow, but Johnson says he grew in more ways than just mentally.

"I got here and I was a 165-pound running back," Johnson told, remembering that first year. "Now, I'm leaving the University of Washington a 197-pound man."

Johnson has wooed coaches and scouts alike through his pre-draft workouts including a Combine performance that put him on many teams' radars. Johnson ran a 4.43 and a 4.46 40-yard dash in Indianapolis in late February, and then looked even better at the UW Pro Day on March 11th.

"(The Combine) was a little tiring," he said referring to the schedule the players were expected to stick to. "It was a little long and dragging and your body didn't get enough rest to actually perform the way you can. I had a good experience though."

You could say that again.

Following the worst season, record-wise, in Washington's history, Johnson wasn't expected to be drafted and no teams were talking about him. But Johnson made it his mission to prove the doubters wrong, starting at the Combine.

And how did he do that?

"I've been training for three months," Johnson said, having finished up his schoolwork during fall quarter. "I got an opportunity to work on some things I felt like I needed to do to make myself better.

"I was real focused on school to get done so that I could focus on my senior season and transition into working out and attaining my dream."

Johnson trained in Arizona with Athletes Performance and said he worked on getting more flexible and worked on core strength conditioning.

At UW's Pro Day, Seahawks defensive backs coach Teryl Austin ran drills for the Huskies defensive backs and seemed pretty happy at the end of the workout with Johnson's performance.

"(The scouts) said I looked really fluid and comfortable in what I was doing," Johnson said. "The big thing I was trying to do was be explosive. They said they were impressed with what I did today compared to my (workout) at the combine."

Considering his excellent showing as the Combine and the Pro Day, some draft experts have Johnson projected as high as the third round in some mock drafts.

With the draft only three weeks away, it is time for a little R&R with the people closest to him. "I've been in Seattle for four or five years, so I've been spending some time with my family in California," Johnson said.

But he says he will never forget his extended Husky family. "These guys are my buddies for life right here," he said.

And what message does he have for all the Dawg fans out there?

Grinning, Johnson said, "Husky fans better look out for me, because I'm going to represent for the Dub."

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