June 18, 2009

Johnson wants to be complete receiver

Ronald Johnson is ready to breakout in a big way.

As a sophomore last season, the speedy wideout caught 33 balls for 570 yards and 8 touchdowns. Still, it wasn't good enough for him.

So, this offseason Johnson's rolling up his sleeves and taking off his gloves. Johnson's been going barehanded during players-only practices. He's also busting his tail off the field, sometimes working out as many as three times a day.

"I've been working out a lot. I'm getting in every day," Johnson said. "Each time, it's a must. I have to work. They make me take days off.

"I might even be overdoing things a little bit, but I just want to keep pushing."

Johnson's a dynamic piece of an offense that is returning the bulk of its starters from a year ago, but one newcomer could play a big role in RoJo's success. That's why he's been keeping his eyes on all of the USC quarterbacks this offseason.

"Things have been really good. You get to see which guy is the most accurate. You get to see which guys are really on it during workouts and who are getting it," he said. "They all look good to me. I'm just happy to get balls from them everyday."

Johnson, like many of the other Trojans, continues to marvel at how far along true freshman Matt Barkley is after being on campus for just one spring.

"I've never seen a freshman like that," Johnson said. "You can tell he's been coached right for a long time. He's been getting good work in."

While Johnson is curious whether Aaron Corp, Barkley or Mitch Mustain will be tossing him the ball, he knows there are things he needs to focus on that are more important.

"I just want to keep working on getting in and out of my cuts. I want to make sure I look the ball all the way in," Johnson said. "I've had off days because of a lack of concentration. I just need to be more consistent."

And he's ready to show people he's more than just a fast pair of legs. Johnson's hoping to be thought of as a complete player - not just a deep threat.

The misconception does have its charms, though.

"I'm glad that people might just look at me like that because they're going to be surprised," Johnson said. "This year, I'm going to show people what I can do. I just can't wait to go out there on the field and prove to everybody how good I am.

"Now, I'm more of an all-around player."

And he's only getting better and more versatile. Johnson and teammate Joe McKnight dueled in an epic battle during a recent workout, with the two players taking turns covering one another.

McKnight was doing a lot of talking; Johnson was making plays.

"Sometimes, you have to put those guys in their place," Johnson said. "The running backs have always been known as the good part of the offense.

"We need to show them that receivers can run things too."

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