Johnson Studious And Versatile

New Vikings offensive lineman doesn't lack confidence, and it's perhaps his preparation that gives him that edge.

Preparation is one of the aspects of football that is often missed on even some of the most talented players. Most top college players can get by simply on their God-given talent. But offensive lineman Marcus Johnson has made the most of his opportunity and never misses a chance to improve.

Johnson has never missed a football game in his life. He has experience at both guard and both tackle spots – starting games at three of the four positions. It is that experience that makes him difficult to hole into a single position. When Ole Miss was struggling with a freshman right tackle, the coaches asked Johnson if he could take over. He made three starts and graded out very well in each of them. In fact, when asked where he thought he fit best in the NFL, he wasn't even sure.

"Either or," Johnson said. "I feel I can play left guard, left tackle, right guard or right tackle. They say they're going to start me out at left guard and I'm fine with that."

Although his experience on the left side is minimal, Johnson took it upon himself to train as if he would be on the left side – practicing firing out of a left-handed stance. Why? Because the more versatile he can be, the better chance he has of moving into the starting lineup quicker.

I've been practicing on the left side because you never know where you are going to line up and play at the next level," Johnson said. "I've been working out of the left-handed stance, so it won't be a problem for me."

Another thing that won't be a problem is controlling Johnson's confidence. Although many scouts project his final landing spot at right tackle, Johnson has the ability to be an NFL starter there or at either guard spot. While his versatility is a plus and he could come in as the primary backup for two or more positions, being a backup isn't in Johnson's long-term or short-term plan. When asked if he expects to start as a rookie, he didn't mince words.

"Ain't no doubt about it," Johnson said. "I'm the most competitive person in America and feel like nobody's going to outwork me. Once I set my mind to it, there ain't no doubt about it. I'm going to do it."


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