Yeehaw! Missouri CB Johnson eager to play

Saturday, November 18, 2006

— Domonique Johnson doesn't particularly like country music, but he has been hearing his fair share of it.

The Missouri cornerback injured his anterior cruciate ligament while blocking on a third-quarter punt return against Colorado Sept. 30. Since then, he has spent a lot of time with head athletic trainer Rex Sharp and his radio, which constantly played country hits.

"I'm learning a lot of country songs," Johnson said. "I'm not a big country music fan, but I'm learning a lot of country music."

But this week, leading up to the Tigers' (7-3, 3-3 Big 12) visit to Iowa State (3-8, 0-7) where Missouri will try to snap a two-game losing streak, he won't have to hear it anymore.

For the first time since teammate Sean Weatherspoon inadvertently pushed a Colorado player into the back of Johnson's leg, he'll play.

Though he's not sure how much he will play, he said he is ready.

"I feel good enough to go out there and play 80 snaps if necessary," he said.

"That's the way I'm going to look at it, and that's the view I've got."

Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel said he wasn't quite sure how much Johnson will play either.

Johnson is listed third on the depth chart behind Darnell Terrell and Paul Simpson for now, but Pinkel said the depth chart could change by today.

Thought to be a strong contributor to the Tigers this season, Johnson made 10 tackles and had a sack through five games.

He started Missouri's first three games before being dropped to No. 2 on the depth chart because of disciplinary reasons against Ohio Sept. 3. He came off the bench the next week against Colorado, too.

When the injury first occurred, Johnson thought he might miss the rest of the season for the second time in his three-year Missouri career. He sat out most of his redshirt freshman season because of a shoulder injury.

But when Johnson went into surgery Oct. 3, doctors found the ligament was not torn, only strained.

That meant instead of four or five months of rehabilitation, which would have ended his season, it would only take a few weeks.

"As soon as I heard (the ligament wasn't torn) I ran up to him and told him to get in the rehab room, get it straightened out," Terrell said.

And while Johnson spent many days with Sharp and his country music, his return took a little longer than expected.

He and team doctors originally set the Nebraska game Nov. 4 as his target date.

Johnson made the trip and suited during MU's 34-20 loss in Lincoln, Neb., but did not play.

But he said he's healthy and ready to put the injury behind him. "That was my first time crawling off the field," he said, "and hopefully I never crawl again."