USC safety Isaiah Johnson isn’t in Kansas anymore

USC safety Isaiah Johnson isn’t in Kansas anymore

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USC safety Isaiah Johnson isn’t in Kansas anymore

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New USC safety Isaiah Johnson (5) had 146 tackles the past two seasons as a starter at Kansas.

New USC safety Isaiah Johnson (5) had 146 tackles the past two seasons as a starter at Kansas.

As Isaiah Johnson met media members after the University of South Carolina’s football practice Tuesday, he appeared surprised.

The Cary, North Carolina, native enters USC as a graduate of Kansas University, where he spent two years as a starter at safety.

But despite picking up 148 tackles and six interceptions, he knew things were different when he arrived in Columbia.

“Coming on a visit, there was excitement here,” said Johnson, who has been on campus for about a month. “I knew, right after I got off the plane, this was the place for me, being around the guys and going around the campus and meeting the players.”

“Overall, I just thought South Carolina bested every school I was looking at.”

With only a season of eligibility remaining, Johnson was not brought in to be eased into the lineup. The coaching staff believes he can add some stability to a secondary that struggled a year ago.

While several players return, they are young. Johnson could be the missing ingredient.

He said he is ready for the challenge.

“I feel like I can add a lot, from vocal leadership to just having more experience coming from the Big 12 and being around a lot of tough offenses and helping the younger guys,” Johnson said. “I feel like I can be a leader to them.”

Johnson opened practice at free safety but has the ability to play anywhere in the secondary.

“Spur, free, strong, it doesn’t matter to me,” Johnson said. “Wherever I can benefit and help this team. Wherever they want me.”

One adjustment Johnson is still making is the move from a basketball-dominant school to one in the football-crazy Southeastern Conference. He said he has already gotten a taste of what it is like to be USC football player in Columbia.

“I didn’t (understand) until I actually got here how big a difference it was,” Johnson said. “I remember, in the Olive Garden, I had a couple people come up to me, something I never really experienced. They just kind of knew who I was.”

“Obviously, I found out when I got here, I’m under a bigger spotlight than I was at KU.”

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USC safety Isaiah Johnson isn’t in Kansas anymore
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