Bucs Q&A: Josh Johnson

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected San Diego QB Josh Johnson on Sunday in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Want to get to know Johnson? Here's an interview he gave to the media at the scouting combine in February so you can get to know Tampa Bay's newest quarterback.

50 TD passes, how does that happen?

Josh Johnson: It was 43 this year. It was just, it was an offense, spreading the ball around, my teammates made plays, and that's what it ended up to be.

Other high school QBs in Bay Area more highly regarded, guys at this combine, now you could go before any of them in the draft . . . ever foresee a climb up the ladder such as this?

Josh Johnson: No, I didn't. Coming out of high school, in my senior year, there was a point in the middle where I didn't think I'd ever play college football because of the fact that at the combine I was 5-11 and 145 pounds, and in my senior year I was playing at about 6-feet, 150, and no one was really recruiting me, so I didn't know what was ahead of me in the future. I just wanted the opportunity to play college football, and coach Harbaugh gave me that, and that's when I began to grow into my body. In high school, I looked like I was about 12. I just developed everything. My physical features started to develop, coach Harbaugh really helped my mind grow a lot, and it all started coming together at San Diego.

No big time high school camps . . .

Josh Johnson: Johnson: I went to an Elite 11 tryout.

Size?

Josh Johnson: I came in today at 213, the heaviest I've ever been, I weighed in at 200 in Houston and I know size is a big key, but I feel like still weigh the same, so that's a good thing, because I've put on good weight.

Elite 11 tryout?

Josh Johnson: It was a great experience, from what I remember, a couple of quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez, was there, he was a junior. There was really a lot of separation between the groups. They had the elite guys in a certain group, and have the other guys in another group. I was one of the other guys. I mean, it was fine with me, it was an opportunity, I felt like, just to throw the ball, and that's all I did. And I just wanted to see what happened. I wasn't able to go on to the Elite 11 and get a scholarship offer, but I was able to go on and play college football.

Have you talked to Marshawn Lynch about the process?

Josh Johnson: I just talked to him recently last weekend. He's just real supportive because he's been through it all, football, since we can remember. He knew I'd be great, and he knows me better than a lot of people. He told me, just keep being you, you're going to be all right, he's been there, he knows what it's all about. Just keep doing what I'm doing, keep getting better, and just keep working hard and I'll be all right.

See him play in Buffalo?

Josh Johnson: Naw, we were playing during the season so I wasn't able to get up there. Hopefully one day I will.

Suspended first game, what happened?

Josh Johnson: It was a violation of team rules, nothing serious. Just a violation of team rules.

Contact with any Chargers?

Josh Johnson: No, I worked out at the same complex that LT worked out at. I met him before. I worked out with him before the break, but I never had a relationship with him.

Who instilled ball security?

Josh Johnson: It started in high school a little bit, because I got cussed out every time I threw an interception, and then coach Harbaugh, he implemented it more in my head. If it's not there, don't fight it. In our offense, the West Coast offense, it was always the checkdowns, take it, and I had the ability to run. He just told me to take what they give you and sometimes they're going to guess right and if you're not able to do anything you can always throw it away. The way I look at it, if I'm not hurting my team, then we're making progress. So the more positive plays the better.

Explain the one interception?

Josh Johnson: It was a scramble play, and I was rolling out. I kind of threw it slightly across my body. It kind of ricocheted off the tight end's chest up in the air and he caught it.

Wasn't your fault . . .

Josh Johnson: Yeah, but it's all right.

Ravens need a QB, John Harbaugh with Baltimore (brother of former San Diego coach Jim) . . .

Josh Johnson: I've talked to the Ravens, but with this process, you don't know who is like, everybody treats you the same and they do the interviews the same. When I met with coach Harbaugh with the Ravens, it was like we kind of never met before. Jim Harbaugh he never really told me he was going to push me, he's been talking me up to just about everybody. Who knows what will happen? All I can do is go out and do what I can do on the field and go from there.

Could have transferred, why not?

Josh Johnson: I really felt like there was a reason why I ended up there. My story is crazy. I'm small, not recruited, a former NFL quarterback recruits me to a school a lot of people think is San Diego State once I say San Diego. It was a non-scholarship program, and as he changed the program around, my life began to change on and off the field. My mom always raised me to be loyal. I felt like, my life changed a lot here, so why leave? Why mess up a good situation. I just felt like God would have wanted me to be there and that's why I ended up there and it all worked out for the better.

Experiences at small school that someone from a place like USC wouldn't know about, the small crowd . . .

Josh Johnson: That's one thing, we play in front of a small school crowd. You don't get a lot of attention out side of your city. I can go outside if I didn't have this sweater off, nobody probably would notice me. That's just life as a small school player, and another thing is, the thing I got to experience was it was all people who love to play football. Nobody came in with a five-star tag on them. No one was highly recruited. We were all paying for school, and we all just wanted to play football in college and we worked real hard for it. That's why I appreciated be there.

How did you afford to attend school?

Josh Johnson: Financial aid, grants and I got loans.

Had a chance to talk to Bucs?

Josh Johnson: Not yet, I've talked to a couple of representatives in open interviews but haven't had an official meeting.

What was the reaction?

Josh Johnson: Same as every other team. Now it's just talking football. I think they got a good feel for who I am and at the East West game they got a better feel, and the coaches can ask questions to get a better feel for you. Now they want to see where your football brain is, and I feel that's what I do best.

What did East-West game mean to you?

Josh Johnson: I'm not sure how much it elevated it. It caused a lot more media to say, maybe he can play against better competition. I don't know how much it elevated my draft stock. I guess we'll find out in April.

4 TD passes in 15 of your last 26 games. Did you need a step up in competition?

Josh Johnson: Maybe, but a the same time, we didn't go undefeated, so maybe not. It was just the way it worked. I was just playing within the offense and playing the game of football. Maybe the level of competition could help me now, but I think the way I went about the situation was just fine. I got three opportunities. I get the East-West Shrine Game, I got the combine and I get my pro day to prove myself for the draft.

Could your legs actually hurt you because you were such a good runner?

Josh Johnson: No, because anyone who has actually seen my film, they understand the way I play the game. I drop back, and I never just tuck it and run. I go through my progressions, and then take off and run. A lot of teams, there was two options they tried to do _ they tried to all-out blitz us to get me to get rid of the ball, and that's what I did _ or they'll drop seven or eight men in coverage. The defense is going to guess right sometimes and it is my ability to run, that's why I run for a lot of yards. This year I had only two rushing touchdowns. My passing numbers exceed my rushing numbers tremendously.

What does it mean for an OAL (Oakland Athletic League) player to maike it this far considering the shape of the league, state of the equipment and school system in the city?

Josh Johnson: It means a lot, because it shows kids growing up in Oakland that they can be someone. The last person to really do anything at my high school is Rickey Henderson. Then we had Leon (Powe) make it to the NBA. Then Marshawn made it last year, and I'm going through the process, so it's just gives people hope that you never know what can happen. You just have to put yourself in the best situation to succeed, and you never know what will happen next.

You may be asked to start from Day 1, are you ready?

Josh Johnson: I would hope so. This is my opinion, you can't really say you're ready for the NFL because you don't know what the NFL is going to be like. All you can do is the day you're drafted, start learning, that's No. 1, and get a good feel for your teammates, and then hopefully put it together on the field. I feel like if you say you're ready the NFL and y ou're not because you don't really know what's going to happen. I feel the way you've got to go is put in the work for the NFL. That's the proper answer. I'm going to work

Are you ready for that?

Josh Johnson: Yes. And I feel I've been preparing for that for the last four years.

Considering your growth on and off the field at San Diego, what were you like at Oakland Tech?

Josh Johnson: In high school, I was really iffy about myself a lot of times. I didn't have confidence. Can I be good? Can I not be good? I worked real hard, but I always doubted myself a lot in high school. And when I wasn't being recruited, that was just another situation bringing me down. Then it kind of opened my eyes, I just wanted a chance. Then when I got that chance, I went to San Diego, I went away from everything, nobody really cared because I was going to a non-scholarship program. No one really knew what was going to happen next except my friends and family that really knew me, and in that sense, I had a clean slate, and my whole demeanor changed after that. In high school, I'd be nervous and sweating in a two-minute drill. Now I love it. That's the best part of the game. I just grew up as a person and had to believe more in myself.

Do you look up to guys like Jeff Garcia, etc., took a more unusual path to the NFL?

Josh Johnson: I really can't model myself, but you see guys like Romo, Tom Brady, Garcia, who took backroads, and just know they worked for what they got. You never know what can happen. Second string, you're one play away. Third string you're two plays away. It's just, you have to always be prepared , especially at this position, and it can all change for you because the quarterback is the most important position on the field and you can go from a nobody to a super bowl winner in the snap of a finger. Tom Brady did it, and you just never know. You have to always be prepared for that.

Is the success of 1-AA quarterbacks, Romo, McNair, Gannon, cause for optimism?

Josh Johnson: I'm going to go in with the same mentality regardless, because, we came from the same level but we all went through different systems, different coaches, we all have different playing styles. They may appreciate things like I appreciate them because they went to a smaller school, but when it comes to playing on the field, it's all going to be different. People have different approaches to the game, they all play the game differently. It's good in a way that you see people who kind of came from where you came from doing well, but you really can't take their approach. If you try to emulate someone else you can get sidetracked. You can't copy what they did because they did it differently.


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