By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
When spring football began a few weeks ago, one specific Cyclone stood out to me in his interview with the local media.
That man was junior cornerback Leonard Johnson.
At that time, Johnson essentially told reporters that after last year’s Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota, he rededicated himself to the game of football. Johnson approached this offseason differently. He cared more.
What he did was ask for help. Physically, he got it from last year’s Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year, David Sims, who took Johnson under his wing in the weight room.
There’s a lot more to football than big muscles and quick feet though. Enter former Cyclone great Ellis Hobbs (who is now with the Philadelphia Eagles) into the equation.
This is where Johnson’s mental mindset on the field has improved.
“He always tells me that when the pads are on, all of the other distractions off the field, girlfriend problems, family problems, this is the time to let that go and focus on football, almost like an escape. Use this as an escape,” Johnson told me after Saturday’s spring game. “He is a mentor to me. I talk to him often. I actually talked to him last week,” Johnson told me after Saturday’s spring game.
Former Iowa State secondary coach Chris Ash connected the two the last time Hobbs was in town.
With his physical improvement along with a fresh mental state of mind on the field, when Sept. 2 comes around, Cyclone fans will see the new and improved Leonard Johnson.
“I am more focused. I am not bringing my off the field problems on the field,” Johnson said. “It’s not affecting how I play. When it is time to put the pads on, it is all about football and getting better.”
Johnson is a major part of what looks to be a very deep Iowa State secondary this season. My favorite thing about the new Leonard Johnson? He’s a very goal-driven human being.
“I think it has to do with me wanting more and not settling for anything. Of course I have matured as a young man and as a football player,” Johnson said. “There are just a lot of things that I want to accomplish in the future. In order for me to do that, I need to get more focused on what I am doing right now.”