Johnson: Once a Dawg, always a Dawg

He didn't go as high as he expected in the 2005 NFL Draft, but things have worked out rather nicely for former Washington CB Derrick Johnson. caught up with the second-year San Francisco 49er and they talked about life in the NFL, going up against an old teammate and wearing an Oregon Duck jersey.

"My pre-draft grade was higher than where I was drafted, but I went in the sixth round," Johnson said about his draft weekend ordeal. "I took it and I went in there with a chip on my shoulder, but I made the team and did pretty well.

"(The NFL) is more than what you expect it to be. You can't really dream about it until you get there because it's totally different than college."

Joining Johnson on the 49ers roster are fellow Huskies Tony Parish and Cody Pickett, but don't expect them to show any favoritism during practice to their former college teammate.

"Cody likes to pick on me," Johnson says with his trademark smile. "He thinks it's a little easier on my side, so he'll try to pick on me, but I tell him it's not like college anymore."

Johnson says he's matured in the way he approaches the game. From film study, to his technique to the way he prepares, it's all different for him. One example of this, is the way he treated former Washington teammate Reggie Williams, who is now a Jacksonville Jaguar, in their meeting last year.

"I started at corner that game," Johnson recalled. "The first play I lined up against him was a blocking play and I know how aggressive and physical he is, so I went and attacked him and he was impressed because he didn't know I was going to do that.

"I watched his film and he likes to throw little DBs around and stuff and I hit him pretty good and he said ‘OK DJ you're a little feisty'. I had a good game against Reggie."

On thing Johnson said he will never do is forget about his association with the Washington football program. While it's hard watching the Dawgs flounder a bit, he said knows they'll be back. He's probably hoping they get back on top sooner rather than later and it's for a selfish reason – he has several former Oregon Ducks on his team.

"I had to wear a jersey when they beat us last year for a week," Johnson said. "It was that ugly green one too. I had to wear it for a week. I wasn't too happy about that, but I get a lot of crap from those Pac 10 guys over there.

"I'm a diehard. It's hard to see because as the Husky Nation, we're all pulling and we're trying to get this thing turned around. Everybody's watching and I'm still watching and keeping up hope that they do better next year."

Johnson reports to training camp with the 49ers in less than two weeks and says he's ready for whatever challenges lie ahead of him. Top Stories