Domonique Johnson began Monday listed third on the Missouri depth chart at cornerback. By the time Saturday’s game at Iowa State begins, he expects that to change.
“If not starting, first person coming off of the bench,” Johnson said. “I won’t be third string.”
Once thought to be lost for the season because of what was originally diagnosed as a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, Johnson will make a long-awaited return to the field against the Cyclones.
Johnson injured his right ACL against Colorado on Sept. 30. The following week, it was announced that he would be lost for the season because of the injury. After the swelling around his knee went down, Johnson underwent surgery on Oct. 10. When he went in for surgery, Johnson held out hope that he would play again this season.
When doctors scoped the knee they found no tear. As it turned out, the injury was just a sprain.
“(Cornerbacks) Coach (Cornell) Ford let us know at our meeting that it wasn’t (torn), and as soon as I heard about it I just ran up to him and told him to get in the rehab room and get it straightened out and help us out,” cornerback Darnell Terrell said.
So Johnson did exactly what his teammates and coaches told him. And along the way, his skills as a leader developed.
Johnson would often follow players from the secondary as they would come off the sidelines, trying to pass along any information he saw while standing and watching. He would tell younger players such as redshirt freshman Hardy Ricks or freshman Del Howard what the quarterback was doing in his audibles or what to look out for from opposing team’s offenses.
Unfortunately for Johnson, he has had a lot of experience watching from the sidelines. Johnson was forced to watch his senior year of football from the sidelines because he transferred the year prior, and he redshirted his first year in college.
“For those who filled in: Del Howard and Hardy Ricks, who are redshirt freshmen, in that arena and that position, I think those kids did a great job,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “It’s just really nice to get that experience back.”
Now, he has a chance to use what he learned while watching the last five games.
“The last five weeks have been difficult,” Johnson said. “But it’s fine now knowing that I’m back practicing with a chance to play and go out there again. It’s good not to be sitting here missing almost my third year in five years of playing football. So, it’s going to be good.”
Johnson was in uniform at Nebraska but did not play. He said the target date for him to come back originally was the Nebraska game.
“It was a coaches’ decision, they felt like I wasn’t moving enough, and I felt like I was,” Johnson said. “But, I’m cool with it. Of course I wanted to play. When I put my uniform on I’m trying to get out there.”
For Terrell, it will be a welcome sight to see his teammate back on the field.
“It’s going to be a pleasure having him back,” Terrell said. “Coming into this season me and him, as the starters, talked to each other about a lot of things and a lot of expectations for each other. I’m just happy to have him back.”
TEMPLE TRIAL UPDATE: Running back Tony Temple’s trial on a misdemeanor assault charge was postponed on Tuesday. Associate Circuit Judge Larry Bryson granted Temple’s lawyer, R. Travis Jacobs, a continuance. The trial has now been postponed in three of the last four months. No future court date has been announced. Temple was arrested on June 11 for allegedly punching a Bennigan’s worker in a dispute that also involved Temple’s girlfriend who worked at the restaurant.