Jan. 24, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. - It’s been a whirlwind week for former Wolfpack defensive back Dontae Johnson, as he and 100 other top players from around the country prepare for the 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl. The game, which will be played in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, will kick off at 4 p.m. (EST) on Saturday and will be broadcast by the NFL Network.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this,” said Johnson from his hotel room at the Senior Bowl, “but it’s a great experience. Competing with and against players from all kinds of systems and backgrounds and being coached by NFL coaches and learning new techniques – it’s definitely valuable.”
Johnson, a New Jersey native who has been training in Florida since graduating from State in December, arrived in Mobile on Saturday and immediately went to work. “As soon as I got here, I had to take a physical and then underwent some different tests. Then I had some informal interviews with different NFL teams.”
Practice started on Monday and Johnson was immediately impressed by the level of play. “The competition is so strong that you can’t take a snap off,” said Johnson, who will play cornerback in Saturday’s game. “It was a little stressful at first, but after the first day I absorbed what was going on and what the coaches’ expectations were and it’s been great.”
Johnson has enjoyed catching up with former opponents who are his teammates this week. He will wear No. 23 and compete on the North squad along with Tahj Boyd and Brandon Thomas from Clemson, Michael Campanaro from Wake Forest and Stephen Morris from Miami. “It’s been cool to reminisce about the times we played,” he continued.
Although Johnson says there hasn’t been much spare time for fun, he did enjoy a visit to a local elementary school this week, where the players spoke to the kids, posed for pictures and signed autographs.
After tomorrow’s game, Johnson will head back to Florida to train before heading to the combine in Indianapolis. But before he heads out, he’s looking forward to putting on his NC State helmet one more time. “I take great pride in representing NC State,” he added. “In the future, I want there to be more Wolfpack players here because it’s a great opportunity.”