OSU football notebook: Tyler Johnson's transformation
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Thursday, August 30, 2012
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During his time at Oklahoma State, former pro baseball player Tyler Johnson has evolved from walk-on linebacker to scholarship defensive end. Coach Mike Gundy announced during preseason camp that he was awarding a scholarship to the junior from Haskell.
Johnson made the move to defensive end in the spring and he said this week that the position change has been good. He enters a Saturday season opener against Savannah State listed second on the depth chart.
Johnson, who weighs 232 pounds, is undersized for his new position. But defensive coordinator Bill Young once described Johnson as strong and "tough as a boot."
"I really don't look at it as (a size issue)," Johnson said before making a movie reference. "I'm sure you've heard of that guy called Rudy. He has a lot of heart. So I try not to look at it like that. I utilize what I have, what God has given me, and just try to give it the best I can."
Johnson, asked if defensive end is a better fit for him than linebacker, said, "Absolutely. I like to utilize my speed. I think that's an advantage (against) those 325-pound guys. Hopefully it will work out."
Ready for debut: Junior college transfer Calvin Barnett, a defensive tackle who played high school football at Booker T. Washington, will make his OSU debut Saturday. Barnett is listed as a starter.
"He's in better shape than what most two-year guys are," Gundy said. "I was impressed with him in the spring and he's had a good summer. For a two-year guy, he's farther along than most (junior college transfers) that we've had. Hopefully, we can get 35 or 40 good plays out of him the first game."
Cornerback update: OSU is breaking in first-year freshmen Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin as second-team cornerbacks. Among reasons the Cowboys are so young is because two experienced corners are on the mend. Gundy said senior Andrae May, who sustained a knee injury in the spring, should be back in a few weeks. And junior Devin Hedgepeth "is back out there and getting better," the coach said. "He has been at a full-scale pace on a limited basis." Hedgepeth tore an Achilles tendon nearly a year ago. Gundy said he hopes to have Hedgepeth available in a few weeks.