Stafon Johnson’s draft diary: ‘I have to learn to be patient’

I knew I wasn’t going to be 100 percent, the way I wanted to be, when I went to the Combine. But through this whole process and on toward the draft, I just want to go out and show I can compete, even when I’m not 100 percent.

For the first time since his injury, Stafon Johnson did 13 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press at the NFL Combine.
For the first time since his injury, Stafon Johnson did 13 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press at the NFL Combine.

I can still compete and stand out under this kind of competition. That’s what I want to show: Even if I’m hurt, I’m going to be tough enough to do the things I need to do. I’m not going to back away.

It’s funny, at the Combine the teams mainly wanted to see if I could interpret defenses and make sure I’m not a character-issue guy. A lot of them actually didn’t even know I was going to work out there—the players, too.

Everybody asked the same questions: Are you going to train? Are you really going to do this? Are you really going to do what everybody else is going to do? And I’m like, "Yeah, why not?" Whatever I did was a plus, and only a good thing.

I’m not scared to fail because I know in the back of my mind all of this is a plus for me. I know I’ve got less than a month left for everything to be on line for the pro day at USC. I can’t get there on March 31 and say, "Well, I wasn’t ready."

In the coming weeks, I’ll work on the little things I’ve seen that I can work on. A lot of what I’ve done so far is just the evaluation stage for me. The Combine was the first time I did 225-pound (bench press) rep since before my injury. That was the first time I was able to run a time for a 40-yard dash.

A lot of things I’m trying to build off of, but it’s hard sometimes. I’m typically used to getting in the 4.4-4.3 range in the 40, and when you come in in the 4.6s, well, I’m mad because of my expectations.

I’m like, "I know this is not me." But you have to look at the bright side and go from there.

You’ve got to trust in yourself, trust and see how things are. It tells you a lot about yourself. It tells you exactly where you can change certain things, things that can make you a better person when you get through the adversity.

You know, everybody can cook good at home, but when you can cook good somewhere else, it kind of tells you what kind of person you are. When you run into adversity and you’re not at home, you’ve got to compete.

The best part of this is being able to correct things and it not hurting you. Because not only is it getting you ready to do what you have to do—to perform in front of the coaches for the numbers— but it actually makes you a better football player because you’re working on the little things.

The hardest thing is wanting so bad to get back so fast where I was before my injury. I’m probably at the point where I have to learn to cool myself down and learn to be patient.

Everything’s coming, but you’re so anxious that you just want to hurry and get back. It’s coming, it’s coming. March 31 is coming, too. I’m aware of that.

As told to Bob Hille

About the author

Stafon Johnson USC RB

Johnson was the Trojans’ second-leading rusher when he suffered a near fatal weightlifting accident in September. Now, only months later, he has recovered from a crushed throat and larynx. He was at the NFL Scouting Combine, and now he’s gearing up for USC’s pro day on March 31. He’ll chronicle his journey to the draft for Sporting News.

This story first appeared in the March 10, 2010 edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.

I knew I wasn’t going to be 100 percent, the way I wanted to be, when I went to the Combine. But through this whole process and on toward the draft, I just want to go out and show I can compete, even when I’m not 100 percent.

For the first time since his injury, Stafon Johnson did 13 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press at the NFL Combine.
For the first time since his injury, Stafon Johnson did 13 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press at the NFL Combine.

I can still compete and stand out under this kind of competition. That’s what I want to show: Even if I’m hurt, I’m going to be tough enough to do the things I need to do. I’m not going to back away.

It’s funny, at the Combine the teams mainly wanted to see if I could interpret defenses and make sure I’m not a character-issue guy. A lot of them actually didn’t even know I was going to work out there—the players, too.

Everybody asked the same questions: Are you going to train? Are you really going to do this? Are you really going to do what everybody else is going to do? And I’m like, "Yeah, why not?" Whatever I did was a plus, and only a good thing.

I’m not scared to fail because I know in the back of my mind all of this is a plus for me. I know I’ve got less than a month left for everything to be on line for the pro day at USC. I can’t get there on March 31 and say, "Well, I wasn’t ready."

In the coming weeks, I’ll work on the little things I’ve seen that I can work on. A lot of what I’ve done so far is just the evaluation stage for me. The Combine was the first time I did 225-pound (bench press) rep since before my injury. That was the first time I was able to run a time for a 40-yard dash.

A lot of things I’m trying to build off of, but it’s hard sometimes. I’m typically used to getting in the 4.4-4.3 range in the 40, and when you come in in the 4.6s, well, I’m mad because of my expectations.

I’m like, "I know this is not me." But you have to look at the bright side and go from there.

You’ve got to trust in yourself, trust and see how things are. It tells you a lot about yourself. It tells you exactly where you can change certain things, things that can make you a better person when you get through the adversity.

You know, everybody can cook good at home, but when you can cook good somewhere else, it kind of tells you what kind of person you are. When you run into adversity and you’re not at home, you’ve got to compete.

The best part of this is being able to correct things and it not hurting you. Because not only is it getting you ready to do what you have to do—to perform in front of the coaches for the numbers— but it actually makes you a better football player because you’re working on the little things.

The hardest thing is wanting so bad to get back so fast where I was before my injury. I’m probably at the point where I have to learn to cool myself down and learn to be patient.

Everything’s coming, but you’re so anxious that you just want to hurry and get back. It’s coming, it’s coming. March 31 is coming, too. I’m aware of that.

As told to Bob Hille

About the author

Stafon Johnson USC RB

Johnson was the Trojans’ second-leading rusher when he suffered a near fatal weightlifting accident in September. Now, only months later, he has recovered from a crushed throat and larynx. He was at the NFL Scouting Combine, and now he’s gearing up for USC’s pro day on March 31. He’ll chronicle his journey to the draft for Sporting News.

This story first appeared in the March 10, 2010 edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*