Meet the new Leonard Johnson

By Chris Williams, Publisher

I wrote a story similar to this during spring football. But the conversation I had with Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson earlier today warrants another one.

This guy has grown up…a lot.

“I have been taking things more seriously. I’ve been looking at everything in a positive way, just trying to get better,” Johnson said. “After talking to my mother and my family back home, I just felt like everyone expected so much of me and that I fell short of my expectations and their expectations. I wanted to work hard. I wanted to get better every day.”

That all happened after a less-than-perfect 2009 season from Iowa State’s junior cornerback. It wasn’t a horrible season. It just wasn’t what Johnson or the Iowa State coaching staff expected.

Johnson said that the reigning Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and Iowa State’s strong safety David Sims took him under his wing in the weight room. But the mental part of Johnson’s game is where you’ll see the most improvement in 2010.

“I grew a lot over the summer with Coach (Bob) Elliott and Coach Nick (Caley),” Johnson said. “I watched a lot of film. Those guys really helped me out. That is a lot of wisdom coming from two guys who really know the game. I will embrace all of it. Now it is time to show what I learned.”

Last spring, I wrote about Johnson’s relationship with former Cyclone great Ellis Hobbs. The two still talk on a consistent basis.

“He has mentored me,” Johnson said. “He’s given me small pointers on what to do in certain situations. He’s told me about different techniques I can use. Just a lot of small stuff that I can use to get an edge.”