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March 24, 2011

High expectations for Johnson

Robert Johnson is one of the young big play receivers Mississippi State will have at its disposal this fall.

The former four-star prospect redshirted his first season in Starkville but is having a stellar start to the spring and will be counted on heavily in the passing game.

"Spring is going down pretty good," Johnson said. "We are kind of reinstalling all of the stuff that we did in the fall. I've just got to get into my playbook right now."

Johnson is also adjusting to a new wide receivers coach. When Mark Hudspeth left to take the head coaching job at Lafayette following the regular season, Angelo Mirando took over working with the wideouts which eventually landed him the full time job with the Bulldogs.

"I like Angelo and I actually liked him when Coach Hud was here," Johnson said. "He can relate to us because he's young himself. He can break the plays down for us since we are young guys and can get used to it. He kind of preaches us on what we need to do."

The Hattiesburg, Miss., native along with fellow true freshmen wideouts Malcolm Johnson and Jameon Lewis spent the entire fall honing their skills and learning the playbook. But when game day arrived it was hard for Johnson to stand on the sidelines for the first time in his career.

"I know a lot of players who have been in the system for a while and they said that (redshirting) was the best thing that could happen so I can get in the playbook," Johnson said. "It was a little discouraging telling my parents that I was going to be riding the bench my first year."

During his senior season at Oak Grove Johnson hauled in 28 passes for 529 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried 167 times for 798 yards and nine more scores helping lead Warriors to the Class 6A state title game. During the state championship against South Panola he caught six passes for 78 yards.

He was also selected as a member of the Clarion Ledger Dandy Dozen, second team All-State and played in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic.

But even though Johnson played at the highest level of competition in Mississippi there was still an adjustment once he reached college.

"It's very competitive and a lot of speed," Johnson said. "There is SEC speed everywhere. We've got linebackers about as fast as I am. It's really not a big transition because in (Class) 6A you've got speed too but in a way it is."

During the recruiting process he picked up offers from Auburn, Alcorn State, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Tulsa and West Virginia. But when it came down to it MSU was the right choice for him and his family.

"I was really looking at them when they first offered me," Johnson said. "My mom's side of the family stays down here so you can't go wrong with family."




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