Since his career began at Purdue, linebacker Landon Johnson has been an inspiration to his fellow teammates, winning consecutive spring awards for "outstanding hitter" and "tenacity and intense play" as awarded by the Boilermakers staff.
The Silent Assassin is relentless in his pursuit on the field and seems to be in on every play, an attribute that NFL teams will love when the 2004 NFL Draft rolls around.
Purdue but turned it on in his senior season to become a more complete player. A year after coming in second on the team in tackles; Johnson led the way in '03 with 102. As a testament to his changing game, Johnson forced three fumbles and added 5.5 tackles for a loss.
The Silent Assassin started to live up to his nickname.
"People call me that because I don't really talk too much out (on the football field)," said Johnson, "and when I get on the field, I try and hit people as hard as I can."
Known as a solid cover man, Johnson fought through injuries during his college career. In his redshirt year he had a stress fracture in his lower back, followed by a high ankle sprain the next year.
Then the injury that had some worried struck. A dislocated shoulder was repaired quickly in '01, but a similar injury caused him to miss two games in 2002. As a result, Johnson had surgery on his shoulder in January of 2003, missing a part of spring drills.
He came back to post solid numbers as a senior and is looking forward to showing his mettle at the combines this coming week.
Johnson knows he will have to answer to the pokes and prods of medical examiners at the upcoming combines, but appreciate NFL teams doing their due diligence.
"I am sure," Johnson responded to whether he would have to answer questions about it. "I had surgery on it last year and had no problems with it this year. They want to know that they are getting someone that is healthy and not just trying to act healthy throughout the season. I don't think it will be a problem."
In the meantime, Johnson is working out on linebacker specific drills to get ready to impress.
He feels he has made a name for himself through four years of college and doesn't think there is too much emphasis placed on one week of activity in Indianapolis.
"I don't think there is too much weight in it," Johnson said. "I know other teams put more emphasis on it than others, but it is another opportunity to show what you can do, and how fast you are, how agile you are and the position specific drills are a good chance to show that you can play football too."
The one area Johnson feels he has to improve upon is his forty time. Players are known to climb and fall based upon the time they are clocked.
It isn't about wanting a specific time, it is about need to Johnson:
"The last 40 I ran was a 4.60 and I need to get down to a 4.5."
Johnson says he is far from slow and while some may run faster times than him, they don't necessarily play at that speed on the field. Johnson thinks he has an edge in that category.
"I play fast when I am on the field and am able to use that quickness to my advantage."
A finesse player who now can lay some wood on the field. Sounds like a guy any team could use come April.
2004 Draft Prospect Interview: Landon Johnson
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