Click To Listen to the Interview
This week we have the NFL Scouting Combine are you 100 percent?
Johnson: Oh man, I’ve never felt this good. If you call this 100 percent...this is awesome right now. I’ve never felt this good. Weight is great, body feels great. I’m sad I never played like this before.
So there are no excuses next week at the combine?
Johnson: I know there’s not much as far as expectations for me so I’m excited to go out and show everyone that they should set the bar a lot higher for me.
In Indianapolis, what kind of weight and height do you think you're going to show?
Johnson: I’ll be 5’11 cause that never changes and I’ll weigh about 214.
That’s up from your usual weight. Have you put on a few pounds?
Johnson: Definitely, I probably played the season around 201, so that was at my heaviest. Now I’ve put on a good solid 13 pounds. I weigh 214 and run at 214 and that won’t be water weight.
Now we were doing some research and you were quoted as saying, “I’m super excited because I’m about to show them something they don’t know” referring to the scouts and your speed.
Johnson: Definitely one of the things I want to show them. One of the knocks on me wasn’t even that I wasn't fast, but it was that I was slow. So I’m excited that it gives me a chance to go up in front of everyone to show not only am I not slow but I’m more towards the other end. I’m not going to say what I’m going to run right now because I want to keep people surprised, but it will be a good little surprise for everybody.
The typical guy goes to the gym three or four times a week maybe for a hour or so. Can you take a tell us how the day goes for Ian Johnson?
Johnson: Oh definitely. I wake up about 7:15, eat breakfast right away, have a couple of shakes, leave for the facility at 7:30. We start running and warming up at 8:00. From 8:30 to about 11:00 we're in there running, doing our resistance training or speed workout. Then after that, we get a 15-20 minute break and have a snack or a light lunch, come back and then we will lift for another two hours. When I’m done lifting for about two hours I’ll take another 45 minute break. Then we go onto the field and do (position) drills. So from about 8 to 3:30.
Wow, that’s impressive. Do you shut down for the rest of the day or are you out there doing active stuff after a long day like that?
Johnson: It all depends on how the workout was and how I’m feeling. At the very beginning of the workouts when I first got to San Diego, as soon as I was done I couldn’t even walk to the beach and we were staying on the beach! I was so tired. Now it’s just about being smart and saying hey 'I might have the energy to do something', but I might sit on the beach for 45 minutes or go sit in the house, catch up and maybe ice myself down because no matter what, I have to be healthy for this combine.
At the East/West Shrine game did any teams show interest in you?
Johnson: I talked with probably upwards of about 15 different teams personally. I mean it was real nice to go out and find out that there are people out there that have interest. So this (Combine) for me is another chance for me to see how much those relationships are really going to be built on. They say 'hey, we liked what we saw at the East/West Shrine game, but you're bigger, faster, stronger than you were even back then.' So I have nothing but good hopes for this (the Combine).
When did you start prepping for the Combine?
Johnson: We got done with our bowl game on December 23rd. I took a week off, then flew into southern California to start training on the 2nd, so I’ve been training since the 2nd of January.
Wow, that’s about 13 or 14 pounds I’m assuming of muscle mass in a short period of time...that’s a impressive statistic.
Johnson: I take my training very seriously and I’ve been taking it almost religiously out here. I mean, when I have a goal in my mind, I’ll reach it. My goal was to come to the Combine at 212 and I think I beat that a little early.
Have you had to answer any questions referring to your reps and production going down since the stand out season of 2006?
Johnson: Definitely had to answer questions. To me it’s easy for me to understand because were not the same team every year. I mean even in the pros where you have guys staying longer than 4 or 5 years, teams change from year to year. Running backs will have a less productive season just because for a team to win, a wide receiver might have to have more catches, other people might have to touch the ball for the team to win. So for me, I just understood that this isn’t the same team - we didn’t have the same offensive line and we needed to switch up who touched the ball in different ways. I just wanted to make this team win and anything I could do to make this team win was what I was all about. And for this year it meant a lot more special teams and not just running the ball. I caught a lot more passes and I’ve done more things on the field than I had ever done.
Have you had to answer any questions regarding your health, and are you nervous about your injuries and answering those questions at the Combine?
Johnson: No I’m not worried about any of those questions. Lucky for me, all my injuries have only a rare chance of recurring. If you take a look at the doctors' notes about why these injuries happened, one of them would say it’s either a fluke or hey it’s a broken rib. The chances of it recurring after it heals are the same as before, so I’m not any more susceptible to that - it’s not going to keep me from running hard. And the things that I needed to do to keep those injuries from happening, I changed. I needed to put on more weight because I didn’t have enough muscle mass or I didn’t have enough cushion in my body to keep my organs safe. I put on a lot on muscle mass in my rib cage area so I mean I’m 100 percent ready to take on a full load take the beating of a running back and not get hurt anymore.
Do you have the mind-set that you could be a 20-carry back in the NFL?
Johnson: Oh definitely, my mind-set is 'go out and carry the ball as many times as they feed it to me'. But that’s not gonna keep me from being happy if I go to a team and they say, 'you're going to be a complementary back for a little bit.' I’m going to go out there and give whatever is asked of me and give them no reason to say 'hey well you’ll only be a complementary back'. I want to give them a reason to say 'hey this guy can do it all.'
As a youngster did you have any players you looked up to or tried to emulate when you were on the field?
Johnson: Oh definitely, I was a huge Emmitt Smith fan. I went from playing him on Tecmo Bowl to watching him live. And it was just something about him that no matter what, he wasn’t super super flashy but he was always productive...he was always just right and I loved him for it.
Now if you get drafted by a NFL team and you play Madden are you going to be Ian Johnson or Adrian Peterson?
Johnson: First I’m not a huge Madden guy, but if I was to play I’d probably have to use myself at least once just so I can say I did. Hey I could say I played a video game with my name, my number - not like college where it’s just your number - and that’s me, my likeness. After that, I’m more of a first person shooter game guy so that’s what I’d spend my time on.
That’s got to be a pretty cool feeling, that you might be on a John Madden football game.
Johnson: It’s ridiculous to me because that was never my desire. I just wanted to play football and enjoy myself doing it. Playing at a high as a level as I could and all of those extras are kind of like waking me up - I could be on a football game...I could be getting paid for this. It's so amazing to me.
What do you like to do in your free time, I know that you're married. Is it hard to spend quality time together?
Johnson: We are definitely real busy. So it’s hard for me to get a lot of quality time but we enjoy ourselves. I spend a lot of my time teaching myself to play piano. If I have a lot of down time I’ll play some video games, watch some TV but my wife and I like to stay active outside of my active football life. We go down to the beach, especially now that were in southern California, we go down to the beach a lot just watch waves and enjoy nature.
Very nice. You guys doing any today for Valentine's Day?
Johnson: Actually we had to fly into Boise last night and we're flying home to Ocean Side, California in about an hour so nothing too special. I think I got a her a vacation to Boise. That was my present to my wife. (Laughs)
So you can tell the honeymoon is over...
Johnson: Just a little bit. (Wife in background saying 'some vacation'.)
Would you do away with the college bowl games and have a playoff system if you could change it?
Johnson: Definitely not, I think the way it’s set up now you would have to push the season earlier into summer. Guys would be playing more games and with the way the college season is, it's already taking a big toll on guys, taking guys out of school longer. College football takes up so much of their time as it is so I don’t think it’s fair to the athletes to play another three or four games. The Bowl (Championship) Series has been good so far. Maybe make some tweaks, but nothing too big.
I’m surprised you answered that way with you guys finished 13-0 (in 2006). I thought you would take the playoff system to be honest with you.
Johnson: I understand why people would think that. But for us, they treated us well - we got our 13-0, we got our Fiesta Bowl season...it worked for us. There are so many variables that are in college football, it's hard to have a perfect system. So maybe tweak it to where teams get automatic bids, but the system is fine.
If we had you iPod or MP3 player, what kind of music would we find?
Johnson: You're going to find a wide variety. A lot of little punk bands on there, I came from a punk rock scene in California so that’s where my heart is. You will find a little rap, a little R&B, some Robin Thicke and even throw some Yanni on there.
Last question before we let you go. I heard back in the day that you had a ritual, a pre-track warm up where you would eat a banana with peel and all. Would you like to comment on that?
Johnson: (Laughing) Close. We had a little deal in high school - the freshmen had to eat a whole entire banana, stem and all. Right before the game, there was no dancing but everyone would chant “banana peel, banana peel!” and we would pick a freshman. He would have to eat it, it started with my class and I continued it...but no dancing.
Very nice. Ian, I want to thank you so much and wish you the best of luck. Hope to see you on draft day holding up a jersey for some team. Best of luck, thank you.
Johnson: You too, thank you.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Click To Listen to the Interview