It had been a long road from Baltimore to Clemson for Tayquon Johnson. Transitioning from playing at defensive tackle in the 2019 season to now playing at guard on the offense, Johnson is ready to show out, already getting playing time in games against Wake Forest and The Citadel this season.
When taking questions from the media on Monday, Johnson discussed the ins and outs of his move from the defensive line to the offensive line, the biggest challenge he faced during the off season, and how P.A.W. Journey has changed his life.
On transitioning from defense to offense
“To start with, I would say the transition has been very good for me. It’s definitely been a challenge making sure I pick up on the technique, the playbook, and stuff like that. My very first game at Wake Forest, I was very nervous…but as the game started to go on, I started to settle down and hone in on my technique and my plays.”
On the edge he brought over from the defensive line
“Our offensive line, especially this year, that’s something we kind of wanted to work on is becoming a better unit to kind of be more aggressive and more nasty…and get that label put on us as being nasty and putting our hands in the dirt, to line up against anybody and pretty much just dog whoever steps on the line.”
On comparing the skill sets between offense and defense
“Going over to offensive line, it’s a lot of thinking. Especially coming from defensive line, if you really paid attention as a defensive line, you will understand as an offensive lineman what the defensive lineman is going to do. I would say the big emphasis that you have to work with is keeping your hands inside and being the first to get inside the pads. That would be something I would say, transitioning from both, it’s a very different technique and very different skill set that you’ll need for both. And I would say your hands are the key that’s going to help you throughout transitioning over, so that’s something I still have to work on, working on my hands, getting inside, and just getting them high.”
On the challenges of weight management throughout the offseason
“Weight management is definitely a big issue I have to hone. Just making sure I’m eating the right things on my off days and keeping my conditioning up to combat overweightness. I definitely try to monitor my weights to make sure that I’m able to play efficiently at my weight. Over the quarantine it was hard to hone in on my weight management, it was pretty difficult being alone, but as I got back into the flow of being here it was easier, especially having the nutrition staff being able to help me along the way and decide what to and what not to eat.”
On being a P.A.W. Journey Ambassador
“Being a P.A.W. Journey Ambassador is like being honored in a special way because it means that people recognize you as a leader. I may not be the most vocal guy on the team, but I try to lead in a silent way, I guess, and just do my part for the team. P.A.W. Journey has definitely helped me develop as a young man towards making greater strides as a man, just doing some of the things that they do like community service. I love going out and helping the young. You know, people like me that have a long story to tell, and just trying to be there for someone in P.A.W. Journey has allowed me to do those kinds of things, even though we do community service for our team. P.A.W. Journey is like the community service on steroids…or whether it’s talking about how to build your social media platform, or how to do an interview, it’s definitely helped me in a greater way probably more than I’ll ever know.”