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Saints Impressed by Rufus Johnson at the Texas vs. The Nation Game

Posted Apr 27, 2013

New Orleans Saints selected Rufus Johnson with the 183rd pick in the 2013 NFL Draft

New Orleans Saints LB Rufus Johnson conference call with New Orleans media transcript 4/27/13

Were the Saints present for your pro day and did you have a lot of contact with them before or afterwards?
 
“The Saints were there when I played in the Texas vs. The Nation game. The GM (Mickey Loomis) was out there and he got a chance to watch me in one-on-one drills, in practice and stuff. I don’t think they were at my pro day but they were at the all-star game I played in.”
 
What were your expectations for today and the draft weekend, coming from such a small school like Tarleton State?
 
“My expectation was the opportunity. Coming from a small school, I know the bigger school guys get drafted. Coming from a small school, I felt like I was the underdog. Right now, it’s just really a blessing. Words can’t really explain how I feel right now. My heart just dropped when I got the call.”
 
Sean Payton always says they don’t care where you came from. Did they tell you that when they called you?
 
“Yes sir. He just told me basically to get after it. He really didn’t speak on it a lot, but he told me to get out there. I’ve put in a lot of work; they watched the film and said I was a great player. I know a lot of people really haven’t heard about me but, having this opportunity, I really think I have a chance to showcase what I really can do at the top level.”
 
What are your strengths?
 
“I’m a very aggressive player. I’m a good pass rusher and I read the ball well. I had 17 tackles for a loss last year and ten sacks. I’m just an aggressive player and a wonderful pass rusher; my pass rushing skills are top notch.”
 
Did you play in a 4-3 or a 3-4 in college?
 
“We played a 4-3.”
 
Do you think you project as a defensive end or an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme?
 
“I think defensive end, but teams were really looking at me as an outside linebacker because I can run. I’m more of an athletic type end. A lot of 3-4 teams were looking at me.”
 
You are listed at 275 pounds. Can you play outside linebacker at that weight?
 
“I can actually move with it. I’m like 270 right now, but I can still kind of move. I’m not slow and sluggish or anything like that.”
 
What was your 40-yard dash time at your pro day?
 
“I ran a 4.69 in the 40 on my pro day.”
 
A lot of players have draft parties on draft weekend. What did you do?
 
“I kind of just stayed with my family. My dad is on dialysis so I kind of just stayed home with my family and my brothers and sisters. I don’t like having a lot of people around me, I just basically stayed with the people that have been there for me before this even came about.”
 
Where are you from?
 
“I’m from Dallas, Texas.”
 
Did you go into the draft thinking that there was a chance that you wouldn’t get picked?
 
“You always have to think about the worst, but I also always try to think about the best. I have strong faith in the good Lord up above. I just kept praying every day and have been looking at the guys getting picked. I was getting kind of discouraged, but (my girlfriend) just kept telling me not to worry about it and to just keep my head up.”
 
Were you recruited by any big schools coming out of high school?
 
“I got recruited by Mississippi State, I got recruited by Baylor. Unfortunately I was not able to go to these schools, so I had to go the Division II route.”
 
How did you enjoy your time at Tarleton?
 
“I enjoyed my time. Coach (Cary) Fowler over here is a wonderful coach. He helped me mature a lot. I had a bad attitude at first but he helped me mature a lot? helped me become a man and really looked out for me while I was down there.”
 
Have you ever been to New Orleans?
 
“No. I’ve passed through New Orleans on my way to Panama City, but I never did stop there. This will be my first time.”
 
Any player in the NFL that you try to pattern your game after?
 
“I’d have to say Julius Peppers. I kind of watch him. Julius Peppers and DeMarcus Ware.”
 
Did you start off at a junior college?
 
“Yes sir. Kilgore Junior College in East Texas.”
 
It has been a long path for you, but today has to be a happy day.
 
“I can’t even talk right now. My heart is beating fast, I’m sweating and stuff. I was just sitting at the park talking to my friend when I got the call. I just broke down and started sweating, I couldn’t even talk to my dad. This is a blessing to me; it really brightened my day. I just want to thank the New Orleans Saints and make sure to go out there and give it my all in everything I do.”
 
What was your father’s reaction when the announcement came?
 
“My dad just gave me the smile that he’s been giving me since I was six years old, ever since I was playing Pop Warner. He gave me that smile and told me ‘Good job.’ He embraced me with a hug, kissed me on my forehead, and told me that now it’s time to go to work. My dad actually played football at Texas Tech.”