Coach's Take on FB Dionte Johnson

Dusty Wittig reels in an exclusive interview with Ohio State running back coach, Dick Tressel. Coach Tressel talks about former Buckeye fullback Dionte Johnson. Tressel shells out Johnson's strengths & weaknesses, his leadership ability and why he considers Dionte as his "Juice guy". Turns out, Johnson has NFL in his blood and is as unforgettable as they come.

Dusty Wittig: In your own words, what kind of player is Dionte?

Dick Tressel: I would say that Dionte is a very emotional player. He is a guy that is excited to play the game and excites those around him. When he was on the field, something was going to happen and he would be the guy jumping up and down about it. He is very intelligent and is a student of the game. His father was a great Buckeye and is a linebacker coach with the Patriots. Dionte is the type that will be at the right place at the right time. He is smart, emotional, and loves the game of football.

DW: What is the strongest part of Dionte's game?

DT: His strength would be straight on blocking. He is the type that goes and attacks his opponent. That is where his comfort level is and he builds from there.

DW: What is something that he will need to improve?

DT: The thing that he pays the most attention to and works on the hardest is his skills as a receiver. He has really worked on improving his hands and gaining yards after the catch. I believe if he develops the receiving aspect of the game he may end up making a pro club.

DW: What kind of guy is Dionte off of the field?

DT: He is smart and fun. He is the kind of guy that you would like to have recruits spend time with. He always has a smile on his face, and is joy talking to him. He makes you feel that he really cares about you and is very respectful. In the classroom he was very sharp. If there were an academic award to be nominated for, he would be the guy that we would nominate. He cares about school and he finished his business degree. When his playing career is over, he will be very fulfilled in those kind of areas.

Dionte Johnson

DW: In your system did you use Dionte as a primarily blocking fullback, or was he used as a ball carrier and receiver out of the backfield as well?

DT: He mainly was a blocking fullback in our system. When we were going to chuck the ball around, he usually came to bench and was replaced by a receiver. When we had the lead in the fourth quarter he was our closer. We would pound the ball behind his blocking and run the clock out. He was involved in the physical part of the game. He worked hard on special teams and was our wedge setter on kickoff returns. And I'm telling you that he had some collisions on special teams for us.

DW: How would you describe Johnson's leadership ability?

DT: He was elected by the team as a captain for the Buckeyes. That is a tremendous honor. Obviously his teammates appreciated what he did as a player and what he did for them. The leadership was something that he took very seriously. He cared about it and was committed to it. He has great potential as a leader because he did it in many ways. He would be very vocal and I would always have to hunt him down to talk to him because he would be up on the front lines cheering for the defense. Also he leads by example by working hard and doing everything right.

DW: How well do you think Dionte will adjust to the NFL game?

DT: Because he is smart and has a lot of experience through his father and by working out with so many of our great players that come back here, he will adjust quite well. He is fighting for spot down there, and will be as anxious as anybody to show the coaches what he can do. I think he will be fine with the adjustment.

DW: What is your favorite memory of Dionte?

DT: He was the guy that I would go to when I felt our running back meetings were going downhill. I would always tell him "Dionte, we need a little juice." Then he would yell "Give me a little juice. Ready, ready." Then all of the other guys would clap three times. After that everyone would perk up and pay attention. He has been my juice guy for the last three years; I don't know what I'm going to do without him.

DT: On the field, the play that stands out for me happened during the title game against Florida two years ago. Ted Ginn Jr. ran the opening kickoff back, but Dionte laid a beautiful block on a guy to spring him, which was probably our only bright spot of that game.

DW: Is there anything else that you would like to say about Dionte?

DT: If you get a chance to meet him you will never forget him. He always has a big smile and is a good looking kid. He is one of those people that are pleasures to be around. He is a genuine, super person.

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