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October 7, 2008Klein Collins athlete Malcolm Johnson pretty much serves in every role for his team. While he committed to Texas A&M as a linebacker prospect, and that is his primary position on the Tiger defense, he also lines up at running back, quarterback, kick returner and even punter for Collins.
However, this past Saturday, even he had a new role. With Collins taking on Tomball and the Greater Houston area's leading receiver in 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior Jordan Leslie, the coaches knew they needed a different defensive strategy to slow down the big pass-catcher. They decided to take advantage of Johnson's athleticism by matching him up with Leslie.
"I played cornerback this past weekend because we played Tomball and Jordan Leslie," said Johnson. "We had talked about the possibility of it before. My coaches ended up moving me there on Tuesday, so I practiced there most of the week."
In Collins' 33-14 win, Johnson more than held his own.
"I had two pass breakups and five tackles," he said. "He either had four or five catches on me. He probably had about 50 yards on those catches. All of his catches against me were on hitches and we limited him on yards after the catch.
"We shut him down pretty much the whole game. After the starters got taken out in the fourth quarter, he had a 76-yard touchdown catch. They put him in motion and our cornerback on that play actually fell down and separated his shoulder."
Johnson says he was excited about the opportunity to play cornerback against Leslie as the two have somewhat of a history dating back to this past summer.
"I covered him during 7-on-7 this summer and I shut him down during 7-on-7," Johnson said of Leslie. "We got into a little bit during 7-on-7 because he was used to catching like seven or eight touchdowns a game and he didn't get that against us."
Collins is sitting at 3-1 on the year and 1-1 in district. It is a feeling that Johnson is not quite used to after a one-win season a year ago.
"Everybody is beating everybody in our district right now," he said. "Klein Oak is the only team at 2-0. There are six of us all at 1-1. We know that we control our own destiny and it's a good feeling to be right in the thick of things.
"Last year, we were 1-9 on the season. I think the reason for the turnaround this year is a combination of a lot of things. We've got more leadership and more experience. All the seniors are stepping up their roles. Also, we've got new coaches that have installed a lot of different things, especially on defense."
This Saturday, the Tigers are set to play Spring High. It was a game Johnson had circled on his calendar as their quarterback Kenric McNeal is also committed to the Aggies. However, McNeal recently suffered an injury to his knee cartilage and is out for the remainder of the regular season.
"I was actually pretty excited to play against him," said Johnson. "I heard he was hurt, though. We've actually known each other since back in like elementary school."