Player Spotlight: Emmanuel Johnson

Player Spotlight:  Emmanuel Johnson

For a true freshman to see the field is rare, and for a true freshman to make an instant impact is even more remarkable. Emmanuel Johnson has made the leap from 1A High School ball to Division One at Southern Miss. He talks about the transition and how he's been able to have such an impact in this interview.

Emmanuel Johnson profile

Most people have never heard of McKenzie, Alabama. The tiny town in south Alabama, and 1A High School was home to a rising star, and the coaches are glad they left no stone unturned in tracking down the "do everything" star.

Johnson did it all in high school. He played QB, RB, WR, S, LB, and even kicked, and returned kicks.

Now, he's made the transition to defense at the Division One level, and he has already shown he is fully capeable of being a star on this level.

"The biggest adjustment for me has been knowing your assignment and knowing exactly where to be at all times," he said.

"In High School, I could just roam around and make plays without thinking about assignments. The coaches are always telling us to do your job. That has been the main focus for me, doing my own job."

He said he's been helped tremendously by Cameron O'Neal, Korey Williams, and JaCorious Cotton.

"Those guys are like mentors to me," he said. "They are always encouraging me and telling me that I can play on this level and play well."

Johnson had a difficult time putting into words exactly what his role is in the defense. "I really can't explain it to you," he said, laughing.

"I had never heard of this role until I got to college, and here they call it the Spur. I call it more like a rover back, but it is hard to put into words really."

Interestingly, he said that he was ready for everything coming into a big time program after being at a small high school.

"Well, I didn't really have any surprises," he said. "I was expecting the unexpected, and it was pretty close to what I thought it would be."

He knows the challenge that lies ahead with a good offense in Rice.

"Last week we did something unexpected, we went on the road and beat a good team in Virginia," he said. "We know that Rice is pretty good. They have a lot of athletes on offense, and we are working hard to prepare for them."

Practice has been consistant, and he hopes they can keep it that way.

"Mainly the focus of practice has been the same thing this week as last week," he added. "How we practice is going to be how we play, so it is all about how we prepare that will impact our play Saturday."

For the season, Johnson has 10 solo tackles, including 2 for a loss.

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