Leonard Johnson Excited To Be With Bucs

May 6th, 2012

Of all the Bucs rookies Joe had a chance to talk with — the Bucs didn’t make that many available — no player had a bigger smile on his face than cornerback Leonard Johnson.

The former Largo High School quarterback and Iowa State cornerback somehow fell through the cracks of the draft and signed with the Bucs as an undrafted free agent.

After a strong series of practices during the rookie minicamp, Johnson learned, yes, he will be at Bucs training camp later this summer. He admitted it is a dream come true to play for the same team he paid to watch as a young teenager.

Ironically, when new Bucs coach Greg Schiano was coaching Rutgers, he staged a football camp at Jefferson High School in Tampa and Johnson has a picture of Schiano posing with Johnson when he was 14. Schiano admitted he didn’t remember the moment but was taken aback when Johnson showed him the picture, seeing that he and Johnson have a past connection other than Johnson playing against a Schiano-led Rutgers.

Below is the transcription of Johnson’s chat with reporters today:

[Not being drafted], I’m past it. The draft was something I was really, really looking forward to because a lot went into the preparation and game film. I was expecting something to come through on draft day but God works in mysterious ways. I am more than happy to be right here.

It’s a great situation for me. I am excited to come to work every day and compete and bring a competitive edge. Just be myself. This gives me the opportunity to stay in touch with my community because I do things in my community. My mother won’t have to take off work to fly out to see me play because I will be right here for my hometown team.

[On the call from Schiano informing him he was offered a contract with the Bucs.]

I was excited, I was excited. It startled me at first. Just to know that I grew up watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and that I am a Buccaneer now, it was a bit overwhelming. I have been talking to my mom and my agent and I was all aboard. I was ready.

[On how he will be practicing with Ronde Barber in the coming weeks.]

I grew up watching him. Great guy. I haven’t met him yet personally but everything I have heard about him [from others at One Buc Palace] I can’t wait to introduce myself to him and I am looking forward to getting next to him and getting some advice. Kind of just be underneath him. I’m going to force myself on him until he tells me to run away.

Not saying you may have a chip on your shoulder, but do you have any added motivation to prove to other teams, “Hey, you could have had me, you could have drafted me.”

I wouldn’t say I have a chip on my shoulder but I am just going to be me. I am a guy who plays very aggressive and plays on the edge. I want to keep everyone excited. I am going to bring everything I do well to the Bucs. I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t. Hopefully, that will put myself where I need to be and where I want to be.

[On how Schiano watched all 12 of Johnson’s games on tape prior to facing Iowa State in a bowl game.]

I knew his gameplan because they had a top receiver and knew there was going to be the matchup, Mohamed Sanu and I. So I know for a fact coach looked at previous games to prepare them. I did pretty good against them, they had limited receptions.

[Did you go to many Bucs games growing up?]

I did. I remember coming into the stadium when I was young, you could come into the stadium for $20 and [sit] way up on top. I’m so excited to come home and be right here where it all started.

Schiano said that you attended one of his football [camps] when you were in high school. Do you remember that?

It was 2004 and I think it was at Jefferson High School. They threw a football camp and I was 14, a freshman, a quarterback. I went to the camp. After the camp, coach took pictures with everyone in the camp and I saved it. My mom and I, she went through the pictures and said, “Hey, look what I found, you and your new head coach. How crazy is that?” That is crazy, isn’t it? He gave a brief message to everybody but I can’t remember what he said.

[The Bucs only drafted one other cornerback. You must look at this as a real opportunity.]

This is an opportunity. I am here. I want them to know I am here. Film doesn’t lie. My film speaks volumes. I could have easily been picked from second to fourth [round], but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But the draft is over. I’m trying not to talk about it because I get fired up. I am a Buc and I am ready to compete. I know the guys they got here are well-respected. The guys they brought in are great players but I’m a great player as well. I’m a top guy. It’s not how you get here; it’s what you do when you are here.

[What are some of the things you do for your community?]

I threw a football camp down in North Greenwood. I had about 300 kids come out. I will throw another one sometime in July. There was a streak of violence in the community, some murders, and we wanted to reach out to the kids in the community, so I reached out to my college teammates and friends I grew up with [to organize the camp]. The message was mostly for the minorities, even though there is a lot of stuff you see, violence and drugs, there are guys who came out of here who are productive and doing great things, not just football.

[How did a guy from Florida adjust to Iowa State and ten feet of snow?]

Iowa State was probably one of the best things to happen to me. I grew up quick, I matured a lot and I learned how to be accountable. Horrible waking up at 5:30 a.m. to get prepped and go to 6 a.m. workouts. It was all about how fast can you adapt and I’m a guy that can adapt pretty fast.

[So you got used to the snow?]

I got used to it.

18 Responses to “Leonard Johnson Excited To Be With Bucs”

  1. SilenceTheCritics Says:

    I like him already. It’s good to see a hometime kid making it to the Bucs. For years you havent seen that.. Wish it would happen more often. Good Luck LJ I’ll be rooting for you.

  2. funkymunkey Says:

    He will make our team for sure. I saw several of his games and always liked how he played. I have been out of the country and finally got the internet working here and was so excited to see we picked him up!! Will go great with our lackluster DBs. He will be a big improvement over Biggers IMO!

  3. RastaMon Says:

    word of caution….Quincy Black….Heyward … et al….sounded pretty good too….

  4. Big Picture Guy Says:

    How often do guys sound bad though, I mean what kind of argument is that.

    I think he has a good chance to be a scrappy back-up, rather than a waste-of-space backup like Myron Lewis. Physically, he just has some limitations that no will-power can compensate for, but mentally I think he’s there, and under the alleged scheme we will run, there’s no reason he can’t succeed.

    Best of luck to the home-town kid.

  5. Have A Nice Day Says:

    More of this kind of stuff, Joe. As much as possible.

  6. The Dutcher Journal (Pete Dutcher) Says:

    SilenceTheCritics Says:
    May 6th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I like him already. It’s good to see a hometime kid making it to the Bucs. For years you havent seen that.. Wish it would happen more often. Good Luck LJ I’ll be rooting for you.



  7. Thomas2.2 Says:

    Big picture guy says:

    “how often do guys sound bad?”

    Have you ever heard Aqib Talib? It sounds worse than

    We should all be rooting for LJ. I will take guys like LJ over the Talib’s of the world all day and spank teams who load up on Talib’s.

    Players like Talib measure well and can make athletic plays – but over the course of a broader sampling – like a game or season, their flaws of low intelligence, discipline etc will hurt you more than help you.

    We need players like Barber, Wright, LJ and it from what we hear Tandy. I think Biggers is terrible but at least he seems like a solid guy and worker.

  8. Garv Says:

    He sounds like a young buccaneers who very much wants to be here. He’ll take direction and most likely will make this team.
    I’m certainly rooting for LJ too!

    And Joe, agree this is good stuff! Especially for fans who are into the positive excitement that has been generated this entire off-season. I really appreciate it and know the majority of Buccaneer fans do as well. I think we’ll see a significant uptick on season ticket sales too.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. Garv Says:

    Buccaneer, young Buccaneer……LOL

  10. Big Picture Guy Says:

    Thomas, and just WHEN was the last time you heard Talib interviewed?

  11. Big Picture Guy Says:

    And even then, he still at least tries to say the right things. Point being, everyone is drilled to say the right things. Actions are much different, but even the biggest idiot still knows to stick to the script.

  12. The Dutcher Journal (Pete Dutcher) Says:

    Thomas, I was with you all the way up until you said Biggers was a “worker”.

    This is why I wish we could by DVDs of each season game…people have short memories.

  13. JonBuc Says:

    “L.J.- what do you think of Thomas 2.too ?”

    That clown that trolls around Chucky Cheese parking lots? I don’t like him at all.

    ” Neither does anyone on Joebucsfan or anywhere else for that matter.”

  14. funkymunkey Says:

    Biggers has sucked since day 1 and he will not be on our roster for more than 1 more year. Hopefully he will be cut before that!!! But we have to have guys who can play. Talib is the best we have, Barber is ancient but still ok for this season, Tandy will end up being a Safety, Biggers will be gone, Wright is good but not great, LJ will make the team and play a lot this season I believe. I think Lewis should have 1 more season with a new coach and staff.

  15. Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    If LJ can cover Mohammed Sanu, and limit him, he has a good chance to make it in Tampa.
    True, Sanu does not have world class speed, but he is a great route runner with very sticky hands.

  16. Stevek Says:

    Well put Thomas. I don’t want a bunch of arrogant, ignorant BS when it comes to being a teammate/professional.

    Give Talib 1 more chance if Schiano wants him. Respect and understand the decision either way.

    All the more interesting, it’s a contract year for Talib an his figure stains the cap is low. Better to keep him and give him ONE LAST chance.

  17. ali Says:

    Here’s some great info on Leonard Johnson in video form.


  18. PekingBuc Says:

    Order of Schiano is signing guys who make plays and can tackle. We need more guys like LJ.

    I expect the roster to be a least 1/3 new for the 2012 season. No music during training camp this year.