Sept. 12, 2002
Junior Terry Johnson faces a difficult task in 2002, replacing second-round NFL draft pick Larry Tripplett on the Huskies' defensive line. It seems as though Johnson has impressed his teammates, however, as Tripplett himself anointed "Tank," as Johnson is known to his teammates, as his most likely successor, and Huskies on both sides of the ball have been quick to mention Johnson this fall when discussing exciting young players. A graduate of McClintock High School in Chandler, Ariz., a school previously best-known for producing a quarterback in 1979 by the name of Rick Neuheisel, Johnson made his presence felt with an interception for a touchdown against Texas in the 2001 Holiday Bowl, a feat he duplicated against San Jose State on Sept. 7. The outgoing lineman took time out for GoHuskies.com to talk about his McClintock heritage, his volleyball stardom, and his three tail-wagging best friends.
GH: How did you get the nickname "Tank?"
Johnson: "My freshman year at Washington, I was reckless in camp. I was fast off the ball didn't have much technique, I just ran over people and ran over things. Jeremiah Pharms and Larry Tripplett started calling me 'Tank.'"
GH: How do you score so many touchdowns as a defensive lineman? You
have as many scores in the past three games as Reggie Williams and Paul
Johnson: "You have to be where the ball's at. If you're by the ball, then good things happen. I've been fortunate enough to have a great guy like Josh Miller getting pressure on the quarterback. San Jose State's quarterback, Marcus Arroyo, tried to throw it away and I batted it up and I caught it. I'm just trying to make big plays."
GH: Did playing tight end in high school help you make the
Johnson: "Yeah, it helped my reflexes and my ball awareness. The ball doesn't feel like a foreign object in my hand, like it does for most d-linemen. It feels like it's supposed to be there."
GH: You were an outstanding prep volleyball player, and were even
offered the chance to play collegiately for some of the best schools in the
country. How does a 6-4, 265-pound dreadlocked defensive lineman end up
Johnson: "Volleyball is a sport that I picked up as a junior in high school. My history teacher was the coach and he told me to come out. I didn't like track and field, so I came out and it was a fun sport. It also helped my hand-eye coordination and my explosion for football."
GH: You're a Dawg, but I hear that you have a few dogs of your own.
What are their names?
Johnson: "I have pit bulls, Rambo, Coco and Cannon. When I lived in the dorms, I got caught with them, so I had them in the locker room for a few days, but got caught there, too. Offensive lineman Elliott Zajac held onto them for a little bit, but I guess they terrorized him and his house. Zajac kept saying, 'Come get your dogs, man, your dogs are crazy!' They're my dogs, though, and I love them."
GH: What's the worst thing an offensive lineman has ever said to
Johnson: "Actually, I'm always the one doing the talking. Most o-linemen are too tired to say anything during the game."
GH: You've got a few tattoos. Which one is your favorite?
Johnson: "That would be the one on the back of my tricep that says 'Indizona.' I was born and raised in Gary, Ind., but I did a lot of my schooling in Arizona, so I take pride in where I'm from. I represent Indizona."
GH: If you could pick a career, what would it be?
Johnson: I'd be a rapper. There's no working out, you just go and perform and get all the perks that most athletes get."
GH: In a battle of cereal icons, the Lucky Charms leprechaun, Count
Chocula and Tony the Tiger get in a fight. Who wins?
Johnson: "Tony the Tiger because he's grrrrrrrreat!"
GH: "Most importantly ,and you knew it was coming ,who's the best
football player ever to come out of McClintock High School, yourself or Rick
Johnson: "Well, I'm clearly way more talented than he is. (laughs) No, I'm just joking, but I do think I am the better athlete."