Johnson Running Free
AMES, Iowa - It has been almost a year since Shontrelle Johnson's potential career ending neck injury, but you wouldn't guess that based on his performance last Saturday.
"It feels good being able to finally be back out there," Johnson said.
Johnson burst out of the gates racking up 120 yards on 18 carries in a 38-23 victory against Tulsa Saturday, also punching it into the end zone for his first score since the 2010 season.
"A lot of people were thinking that I've been gone, so I wasn't going to be the same," Johnson said, "It's sort of like riding a bike. Just because you take a year off from riding a bike, football is football, you don't forget."
Johnson sustained his injury against Texas, the fourth game of the 2011 season. Before he went down, Johnson was on pace for a terrific season compiling 247 yards on 51 carries.
The Cyclones knew Tulsa, the one-point favorite in Saturday's game, was going to be a tough football team.
"They were great up front. They brought a lot of pressure with their defensive ends. It was a pretty even matchup with our offense," Johnson said.
Aside from stumbling a bit in the beginning, Iowa State put together a promising performance. He also had good words for the Cyclone defense.
"We played like a mature football team," Johnson said. "We had fewer turnovers than last year's opener and fewer penalties, for the first game I think we did well."
"(Linebackers) Jake (Knott) and A.J. (Klein) looked great. The 'dynamic duo' will definitely be a huge part of our team this year," Johnson said.
As far as the quarterback situation goes, Johnson has faith in Steele Jantz.
"Jantz is playing at a high level right now," Johnson said. "He understands the offense well and he really led that game."
One moment from Saturday stuck in Johnson's mind more than most, finally getting back in the end zone. The Iowa State running back scored on a five-yard run late in the fourth quarter to cement the Cyclone victory.
"I didn't get a chance to score last year, so it was kind of special to me," Johnson explained. "Everyone just said to be patient, and it finally came at the end of the game with two minutes to go."
Iowa State head football coach Paul Rhoads made sure the Cyclones were focused and wanted them to execute the way they knew how. After a great win against a tough Tulsa team, Iowa State prepares for the upcoming weekend in Iowa City against interstate rival Iowa. The game kicks off at 2:30 P.M. CDT Saturday on the Big Ten Network from Kinnick Stadium.
"Any time it's a rivalry game, and with the environment at Kinnick (Stadium), it's going to be exciting," Johnson said. "It went down to the wire last year, and they have a strong team this year. It should be a great game."
Johnson was a huge part of the last Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk game in 2011. He put up 108 yards on the ground, along with three catches for 27 yards in a 44-41 triple overtime victory.
"We got one win out of the way this season," Johnson said. "We know how well we can play and we just need to keep working."