In the Trenches with Terry Johnson
Sept. 12, 2002
Junior Terry Johnson faces a difficult task in 2002, replacing second-roundNFL draft pick Larry Tripplett on the Huskies' defensive line. It seems asthough Johnson has impressed his teammates, however, as Tripplett himselfanointed 'Tank,' as Johnson is known to his teammates, as his most likelysuccessor, and Huskies on both sides of the ball have been quick to mentionJohnson this fall when discussing exciting young players. A graduate ofMcClintock High School in Chandler, Ariz., a school previously best-knownfor producing a quarterback in 1979 by the name of Rick Neuheisel, Johnsonmade his presence felt with an interception for a touchdown against Texas inthe 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 hisMcClintock heritage, his volleyball stardom, and his three tail-wagging bestfriends.
GH: How did you get the nickname 'Tank?'
Johnson: 'My freshman year at Washington, I was reckless in camp. Iwas fast off the ball didn't have much technique, I just ran over peopleand ran over things. Jeremiah Pharms and Larry Tripplett started calling me'Tank.''
GH: How do you score so many touchdowns as a defensive lineman? Youhave as many scores in the past three games as Reggie Williams and PaulArnold combined!
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 likeJosh Miller getting pressure on the quarterback. San Jose State'squarterback, Marcus Arroyo, tried to throw it away and I batted it up and Icaught it. I'm just trying to make big plays.'
GH: Did playing tight end in high school help you make theinterceptions?
Johnson: 'Yeah, it helped my reflexes and my ball awareness. The balldoesn't feel like a foreign object in my hand, like it does for mostd-linemen. It feels like it's supposed to be there.'
GH: You were an outstanding prep volleyball player, and were evenoffered the chance to play collegiately for some of the best schools in thecountry. How does a 6-4, 265-pound dreadlocked defensive lineman end upplaying volleyball?
Johnson: 'Volleyball is a sport that I picked up as a junior in highschool. My history teacher was the coach and he told me to come out. Ididn't like track and field, so I came out and it was a fun sport. It alsohelped 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 inthe dorms, I got caught with them, so I had them in the locker room for afew days, but got caught there, too. Offensive lineman Elliott Zajac heldonto 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'remy dogs, though, and I love them.'
GH: What's the worst thing an offensive lineman has ever said toyou?
Johnson: 'Actually, I'm always the one doing the talking. Mosto-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 myschooling in Arizona, so I take pride in where I'm from. I representIndizona.'
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 andperform and get all the perks that most athletes get.'
GH: In a battle of cereal icons, the Lucky Charms leprechaun, CountChocula 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 bestfootball player ever to come out of McClintock High School, yourself or RickNeuheisel?
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.'