BLOG: C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss’ standout linebacker signee from Philadelphia, said he was disappointed to hear the news about the torn anterior cruciate ligament injury junior linebacker D.T. Shackelford suffered on Monday.Ole Miss athletics officials confirmed late Tuesday morning that Shackelford could miss up to eight months after suffering a torn ACL in his right leg while he was participating in Monday’s drills at the indoor practice facility. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Johnson said he gotten to know Shackelford through the recruiting process and talked with him regularly about the ins and outs of college football.
“I just saw him three weeks ago when I came to Oxford to watch them work out,” Johnson said. “I was shocked when I heard the news. (Defensive coordinator) Coach (Tyrone) Nix called me last night and told me that D.T. was probably done for the year. This is a big loss to the team, to the defense because he is such a great leader. He leads the way not only by being vocal, but how he plays the game. He loves to play the game and you hate to lose somebody like that off your team.”
Johnson, who was named a Parade All-American this past season and played in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl, was expected to see action as a freshman, but with Shackelford’s injury, he will likely see even more playing time than first expected. Johnson was aware he would probably be expected to play a bigger role with Shackelford now out, but Johnson added he couldn’t fill his role alone.
“No, no way. The way he plays the game with all his experience, those are very tough shoes to fill. He was the heart of the defense last year,” Johnson said of Shackelford. “He’s got so much experience and he’s such a special competitor, you can’t replace a guy like that. D.T. was the most humble person. He’s somebody I look up to and a guy I want to be a mentor to me. I’m hoping to get under his wing when I get to campus so he can see teach me things about being a good linebacker.”
Johnson added that he hasn’t spoken with any of his fellow defensive signees about Shackelford’s injury. He thought that would probably happen this weekend when several were expected to come together for Saturday’s annual Grove Bowl. (April 12, 2011)