|Ann Arbor (MI) Pioneer running back Drake Johnson|
Drake was nice enough to talk with me on a recent Friday night following his track practice when he spoke on a variety of topics and answered several reader questions.
Speed: "A lot of people have timed me in the forty. I mean, my track coach has, my football coach has - I've had multiple people do it. It's always in the 4.36 - 4.38 range, and I ran the 100 [meter dash] in 10.7 flat. I'm trying to improve to a 10.6 flat. Sometimes people think that just because I'm not taking insanely fast, short steps, I'm not as fast as someone else. But if some runners take five steps to cover ten yards and I'm taking three steps, then if I'm covering that much ground, then I'm going to beat you."
Weight: "Right now, I'm 206 pounds. Once track season starts I lose a lot of weight because I'm more focused on the running aspect as opposed to the strength aspect. And then once track ends, it's back to more of the football aspect as opposed to the track aspect. . . . I think Coach Jackson wants me to [eventually] be at max 220 pounds."
Committing to Michigan: "It wasn't so much pressure as it was expected because my whole family's gone to Michigan. It runs in my family to go to the university. My mom is the head cheerleading coach (Pam St. John). My dad went there; my grandfather went there. My step-dad played quarterback at Michigan (Tom Slade). . . . Yeah, he's my step-dad and he passed away almost six years ago, coming up. . . . When I was really young, my mom used to be really afraid of me going to games because there was like 110,000 people walking around and she didn't want me to get lost, but then at like age 13 I'd go to maybe four or five games a year."
Another position of interest? "Well, I've always been a really good receiver. I think my junior year I had like 600 receiving yards - it was in a more spread-type offense so I had more like 1,400 rushing yards instead [of 2,805] - and I also had about 45 catches. I've always been good at catching the ball. It's nothing that I particularly had to develop; it's just kind of a natural ability to catch the football. So if I switched positions I would like to go there, I guess, but it's my preference to stay at tailback, of course. . . . I played outside linebacker last year [junior year] and learned about how to play against a tailback, so having that knowledge makes it easier to get past them. The front seven, I've gotten a lot of the gist of what they might do."
Running back competition: "They're all really good backs, so it would be unfair for me to say that any one of them is more competitive to me than any other one of them. To get to that point, they're all really, really good. They had to be to go to Michigan."
Staying prepared: "The coaches haven't really talked about how they want to use me yet, but Coach Jackson has been telling me what he wants me to do to be prepared. . . . Normally, I'll wake up and run two to three miles. If not, then I'll go up to the weight room or do a track workout."
A happy roommate: "I don't know who I'll be rooming with, but whoever I do will probably be a very happy person, though. I have a ton of electronics, which I'm sure anyone my age would like."
Thinking ahead: "I'm going for Psychology, so I can be a Psychiatrist. Since I'm getting a degree from Michigan, I might as well pursue it for what it's worth. I know that a Michigan degree is worth a lot. So Medical School wouldn't be free because that would be past the four or five years or whatever it [the scholarship] is worth, but it [Medical School] would be a lot easier to pay for with just the normal [undergraduate] tuition gone."