Johnson Focused On Season

Cajun Redzone Publisher
Posted Aug 15, 2011

When Coach Hudspeth signed his first class, he was hoping Mendenhall HS (MS) linebacker Trae Johnson would be able to come in and just compete for some playing time this fall. After enrolling in January and participating in spring practice, the “6-1”, 225-pound freshman finds himself working with the first team defense.

After participating as a true freshman in the spring drills, Trae Johnson finds himself ahead of the curve and all the other incoming freshmen this fall on the defensive side of the ball. How has his work in the spring helped him in adjusting to college football?

“Being able to participate in the spring has put me in the game and allowed me to adjust to playing college football,” Trae stated. “It made everything easier to adjust to and we worked so hard in the spring that it really wasn’t much of an adjustment for me going through summer workouts. I knew what the coaches expected from me and everything was a little be easier to acclimate myself to during the summer workouts.”

Working out in college football strength and conditioning program since January was a huge advantage for Trae Johnson. It allowed him to get bigger and stronger to compete against the upper classmen, how much of a difference has that program made on his body between the end of spring and the start of fall practice?

“I feel like I’m more explosives from the hips and quickness have improved,” said Johnson. “My lateral movement is much better and my conditioning has increased a whole lot since the spring. Overall, I’m just more physically prepared to compete and take the pounding of college football practices and games.”

Playing in the spring football game has allowed Johnson to learn the defense and make his mistakes early in the year. How much does Johnson feel his play and the defense improved at this point?

“We are at the learning point right now, we already now what Coach Stewart wants from us,” Trae stated. It’s all about running to the ball and stopping the run. We do that consistently, you are going to win some games. We still are adding some packages, but I feel the defense is better then it was in the spring.”

Johnson has worked very hard rotating with the other athletes at linebacker the first two weeks. Now he finds himself in the position to travel to Oklahoma State as a starter, how does he feel the linebacker core is performing this fall?

“We are really not focused on One’s and Two’s, but just on everyone playing right now,” said Johnson. “We all know that everyone will get to play in the rotation and when one person comes out there is not going to be a drop-off in the play at the position. That way we are getting the same production when someone comes out of the game and is replaced by someone else. It’s not about me, but our group and how we are all performing.”

Lining up against guys like Leonardo Bates and Andre Huval everyday in practice, what has been Trae Johnson’s biggest challenge in adjusting to college football?

“It’s the speed of the game,” Trae stated. “I can remember my first practice in the spring; I got blocked all over the field that day. I don’t remember every getting blocked like that in high school. The cut blocks and double teams, all those things were new to me because I didn’t see a lot of that in high school football.”

With the Cajuns heading into week three of fall practice, what are Johnson’s goals?

“Obviously getting prepared mentally for the first game,” said Johnson. “We’ve worked really hard in preparing our bodies for the physical part of the game, but the mental part is more challenging when the bullets start to fly.”

Moving down from Mississippi, Johnson has been exposed to a different culture in Lafayette, Louisiana. How has he adjusted to college campus life since January?

“Mississippi is really country and when I came to Lafayette it was more of a city environment,” Trae stated. “Everyone just kind of blends in here and you pick up things along the way that help you fit in. I’ve picked up a lot of habits and you get a little accent once you settle in to campus live. People tell me now that I don’t sound like I’m from Mississippi any more, so I think I finally fit in now.”

Trae Johnson had the opportunity to sign with more successful programs, why did he choose Louisiana’s Ragin’Cajuns?

“I received a call from the coaches and they told me they need some help at linebacker,” said Johnson. “They told me Grant Fleming was graduating and that I could come in and compete right away with no favoritisms. Coach Hudspeth said they had seen me play and he felt that I could come in right away and compete for a starting position.”

Judging from the early results of Trae Johnson’s play on the football field, he made the right choice in join the Cajun’s football program.

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