Johnson Returns for Senior Season

Micah Johnson

Micah Johnson

Jan. 9, 2009

Press Conference Quotes

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After exploring the possibility of entering the National Football League draft, All-Southeastern Conference middle linebacker Micah Johnson announced during a Friday news conference that he will stay at Kentucky for his senior season in 2009.

Johnson has helped lead the Wildcats to winning seasons and bowl victories in each of his three years at UK, including a 25-19 triumph over East Carolina in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2.

Johnson made 93 tackles during the 2008 season, only five behind team leader Braxton Kelley, despite missing two games because of injury. Showing his excellent speed, Johnson led the team with 13 tackles for loss, including 2.5 quarterback sacks. He also had two pass breakups and caused a fumble.

Johnson was a first-team All-SEC selection by the league coaches. Entering the bowl games, he ranked third in the SEC in tackles per game and sixth in tackles for loss.

Johnson had four double-figure tackling games in 2008, including a career-high 15 stops in the win over Arkansas. He led the Wildcats in tackles in eight of the 11 games in which he played.

“This is huge for our defense to be able to bring back Micah, who is one of the leading tacklers on our team and in the Southeastern Conference,” Coach Rich Brooks said. “It's like getting a big-time recruit, but even better in that it's one who knows what you're doing.”

An additional benefit for the Johnson family is that Micah and his brother Christian will get to play their senior seasons together in 2009. Christian is an offensive guard for the Wildcats.

Quotes from Micah Johnson's News Conference:



Opening Statement …
“After thinking about it long and hard and meeting with my family and with Coach (Rich) Brooks, I have decided that I will return for my senior year. I think this is the best decision for me and my situation. After talking with Coach Brooks I told him that when I committed here as a freshman I wanted to be a part of something special and make history. I trust Coach Brooks to make that possible because he will work just as hard as I will to make that possible. I feel like next year we have a great chance to do something special and hopefully I can be a catalyst for that and do all the right things to make that possible.”

On where they told him he would go in the draft …
“They had three different categories, and I was in the middle pack which was anywhere from the third, fourth or fifth round. With a good workout my stock could have shot up and that was something that I was thinking about. I am confident in myself and my abilities and that I can easily go out there and run a 4.6/40 (yard dash) and put up 30 reps on 225 (pounds in the bench press). When you fall in that category anything can happen. A lot of people are fine with that, but like I said I want to come back in my last year and try to make something happen. I feel at worst I will be in the same situation than I am now. I am confident that I will be able to work hard and will be a first- or second-round type of guy. I know how hard I will work and I know there is not another player out there that will outwork me.”

On what he needs to get better after going through the evaluation …
“I made a lot of progress this last year and Coach (Chuck) Smith has been doing a good job with me and teaching me about the game. I think that is what helped me elevate my game to another level and you can never watch too much film and do too much studying. Every game you go out there and it is like a test and the better you prepare for that test the better you will do. This upcoming season I will watch a lot of film and get better with my reads. I also need to improve my speed, flexibility and working on my body.”

On if his leadership role will increase heading into next year …
“I think that it will. Braxton (Kelley) was a great leader and he did all the rights things as well as Marcus (McClinton) and Myron (Pryor), they all did the right things and worked hard. I will have to step up and a lot of the guys will follow me as long as I am doing the right things and showing them the right things to do, like being on time and doing extra work. I feel like I can be one of those guys that the other guys look to for leadership.”

On what he thinks Kentucky can do next year …
“I really want to have a chance to compete for the SEC Championship, play in an SEC Championship or BCS game, something special like that to take this program to the next level. The talent is here, we can do a lot better than what we did this year. We were in a situation where we could have made more things happen this year if a few plays change in games that we could have and should have won.”

On if he has talked to Jeremy Jarmon or Trevard Lindley about their decisions …
“If they all came back it would make it better, because you have three All-SEC guys on the defense and it could be a special thing. I have talked to Trevard and Jeremy on several occasions but we are all individuals and we all have to make a decision that is best for us. They are in the same boat as me as far as wanting to do something special but their decision will come.”

On how tempted he felt to go to the NFL …
“It was very tempting because a lot of people look at it in different ways. My whole life I have wanted to play in the NFL and I have worked so hard to do that. It was shocking in a sense but also a good sense of relief that I will be one of those players that will be able to play in the NFL. After talking to Coach Brooks and my family I made a decision that was best for me. My mom and dad told me that they would support me in whatever decision that I made and I think it will be huge that I will come back and my brother (Christian) will be able to share it with me as well.”

On how much his brother playing with him played into him staying at Kentucky … “It played into it a lot. All my life I have been playing football with Christian from middle school, high school and when we decided to come to Kentucky. It will be great for us to go out together and we will be pushing each other to do all the right things on and off the field. I think that he is a very talented individual and I will be happy to spend our senior years together.”

On what Coach Brooks told him …
“Coach Brooks has been in the game a long time and has seen it all from top to bottom. I knew that I could go to him and trust what he told me. We sat down and talked about the decision and the evaluation and he told me that I am going to have to do what is best for me. I went to him after the Tennessee game and we sat down and watched the game together and he told me what I could do to get better. After that we had the same talk about the evaluation, I think that Coach Brooks' evaluation is tougher than the NFL's evaluation. I know that if I can impress him I am moving in the right direction.”

On what was the most important part of him coming back …
“Really just being able to do it again with my brother and talking to the other guys and getting a feel for this team and the direction it is going. I feel that everyone wants to work hard and strive towards something great. If I felt that the guys weren't motivated and didn't want to do something special I probably would have left, but the fact that we are all on the same page and shooting for the same goals made it a much easier situation.”

On what it means to him to be able to go to Coach Brooks and trust his opinion …
“It felt good. Coach Brooks and I have a great relationship and I go to his office several times a year and sit down and have talks with him. He always has his door available or I can call him on the phone and he will talk to me. Not once did Coach Brooks say anything for the sake of the program or ever say flat-out that I needed to come back. He put the decision on me and listened to what I had to say. It was a lot more comfortable knowing that is how he felt.”

2015 National Signing Day Commonwealth Stadium