Jocquell Johnson is going through his second set of spring practices at Mississippi State.
However, the junior college transfer from Copiah-Lincoln Community College was unable to do much during his initial spring due to a surgically repaired left shoulder that kept him away from contact.
Johnson had hoped his shoulder would be healed enough to play last fall but when it wasn’t, he ended up redshirting.
“The doctor told me that I’d have to sit out during the spring but I’d probably be able to play,” Johnson said. “But it wasn’t ready so that’s why I redshirted. It actually helped a lot. I got a lot stronger and I had more time to learn. I basically got an extra year to prepare and learn so I think it’ll help me a whole lot.”
The former three-star prospect was a two-year starter at tackle at Co-Lin and helped lead the Wolfpack to the MACJC State Championship as a freshman. But Johnson quickly learned that playing in the Southeastern Conference is quite the departure from junior college
“It’s different and a lot faster,” Johnson said. “I’m getting used to it. There’s a lot more to learn as far as the plays are concerned but I’m getting the hang of it.”
One of the adjustments Johnson had to make was to MSU offensive line coach John Hevesy. Johnson admits it is hard for him to understand Hevesy due to the pace in which the Connecticut native speaks.
“He talks really fast so I learned that you have to be a good listener or you just have to record it or take a lot of notes,” Johnson said. “If not, you’re going to miss something.”
And Johnson has had to learn a lot during his year in Starkville. He has practiced at every position along the offensive line and is making the transition to center this spring. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder is currently working with the second team.
“Honestly, I’m competing for whatever spot,” Johnson said. “I’d rather be at tackle but there’s really not a specific spot. Wherever (Hevesy) needs me I’ll go compete for it. I’m just trying to get in.”
The Bulldogs recruited Johnson out of Callaway High School in 2011 where he was a Class 5A first team All-State selection and participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.
When it came time to be recruited again out of JUCO, the Bulldogs dedication paid off as Johnson chose them over an offer from Ole Miss.
“That played a big role because it showed that they were loyal from Day 1,” Johnson said.