Copiah-Lincoln offensive lineman Jocquell Johnson took the long road to get to his dream. The Jackson native was recruited by schools out of high school but needed two more years to develop in the Mississippi Junior College system. On Wednesday morning, Johnson finally realized his dream of becoming a Bulldog as he signed over the next two years to play in the SEC with Mississippi State University.
"It's really exciting," Johnson said. I signed at 7:45 this morning, I just couldn't wait. I'm not going to get too overwhelmed about it because I've still got things to do, but I've been waiting for years to do this. Now I can say I'm officially a Bulldog."
Johnson worked long and hard to get to where he wanted to be and now he's seeing that pay dividends as he begins his SEC career in just a few weeks. He even admits that he'll miss some of the days working hard in high school and Junior College to get to his next goal.
"From throwing up, to injuries and fatigue. I don't know where to start," Johnson said of his way up. "It's been rough but it's all been worth it. JUCO helped me mature and get stronger for MSU. I feel like it was the right move. I don't regret it at all. I will miss those 5:30 workouts that we had, but I know there's going to be a lot more like that but worse at MSU!"
Rivals final JUCO rankings for 2014 had Johnson sitting at 42 in the country overall in the top 100 and ninth among offensive lineman. The Bulldogs were happy to get one of the nation's best who just so happened to be home grown in Mississippi. As a highly coveted lineman, Johnson said that the coaching staff put them over the top.
"The coaches and loyalty set them apart," Johnson said of MSU. They've been loyal to me since high school. Loyalty goes a long way. I can tell the coaching staff is real because of the way they are on and off the field."
Now that Johnson is signed to MSU, there's a lot expected out of him. Junior College players are usually picked to get on the field immediately and that's what the MSU coaches have told Johnson they expect from him.
"I think I'm going to be expected to come in and grind hard and get ready for the season," Johnson said. "I have to prepare myself better for things I need to get better at like my pass set and run blocking foot work. I feel like everything is going to go great. I can't wait to come in and work."
Johnson is now less than a month away from enrolling at MSU and while he doesn't have his academic schedule just yet, he already has a plan mapped out by coaches. Including what not to do over the Christmas holidays.
"I do not need to gain weight," Johnson said. "Whatever I gain I have to run it off. So I promise you I won't have any trouble staying away from that food on Christmas. January 12th I'll be coming up to Starkville for good. I'm going to be rooming with Norman Price."
Johnson will be the second member of the 2014 class to enroll for the spring with high school quarterback Nick Fitzgerald already on campus. Hinds Community College offensive lineman Price has yet to sign but is expected to do so sometime today or this week.