A baseball player that can play multiple positions is referred to as a utility player.
That is also a good way to describe Mississippi State’s Jocquell Johnson. The versatile Johnson has lined up at every position along the Bulldogs’ offensive line and feels confident he can fill in at any at a moment’s notice.
“For the most part, I know every position,” Johnson said. “I’ve played every position. I came in at left guard and they moved me to right guard. Then I went to right tackle then to left tackle, back to right tackle and then center.”
Johnson spent his first season on the field at MSU serving as the team’s back-up center. That position was the hardest of all to pick up because he simply had never snapped before other than in a few times in the backyard.
There was no discussion about Johnson switching positions last spring, offensive line coach John Hevesy simply told him to move to center.
“It was kind of a shock but I knew I had to put my big boy shoes on because I had big shoes to fill with Dillon (Day) leaving,” Johnson said. “He had multiple years of experience and Jamaal (Clayborn) and I didn’t have much experience. That was the first thing that went through my mind.”
The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder saw action in seven games as a redshirt junior this season and could be in for another change as he spent most of bowl practice working at right tackle.
Johnson arrived in Starkville two years ago but left shoulder surgery forced him to redshirt the 2014 season. Looking back on it, however, Johnson sees the redshirt year as beneficial to his development.
“It gave me any extra year to learn the offense,” Johnson said. “I needed to realize what I had to do and why I had to do it. Redshirting helped a lot and paid off.”
The Jackson native was recruited by the Bulldogs out of Callaway High School, where he was first team All-State and played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.
But Johnson failed to qualify academically forcing him to take the junior college route. He ended up at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, where he started every game at left tackle for the Wolfpack.
But his two years in Wesson were only a means to an end in hopes of one day suiting up for his childhood favorite, Mississippi State.
“My only motivation while I was at Co-Lin besides my family was knowing that the school I’ve wanted to come to all my life still wanted me,” Johnson said. “I thought about that every day when I was on the field and the classroom to help motivate me to get here. I’ve wanted to come here since I was a little boy. To actually come and be able to play for them makes you feel good.”