South Carolina's offensive line in 2012 will be anchored by senior T.J. Johnson's experience and leadership.
Johnson (6-6, 319) has started all 40 games the past three seasons. He enters his final season tied for sixth in school history in starts. He is seven behind the leader, Cliff Matthews.
Johnson was a second-team selection to the coaches' preseason all-SEC squad. He also is on the watch list for the Rimington Award, which is given to the nation's best center.
Johnson missed almost two weeks of spring due to a foot injury but is healthy going into the fall.
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How's your foot? Everything OK?
Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just getting old. I feel great. I really do.
How has your role as a leader evolved?
I'm the kind of guy who tries to lead by example. I'm not a super vocal kind of guy. I try to do everything I'm supposed to do and so far I feel like it's worked pretty good.
You got to lead the team in prayer at the first practice. How was that?
It was wonderful. That's a tradition we have here. Coach Spurrier stsarts the first day of training with a prayer.
What did you pray for?
I just asked for God's blessing on this season. Help keep us safe. I told him we were going to dedicate this season to him and play for his glory.
How nice has it been to have Marcus Lattimore back?
All of us linemen sometimes take our heads out of blocks just to see where Marcus is and see what he's doing with the ball. It's exciting to have Marcus back.
What is your take on Connor Shaw?
I think Connor is another one of those guys who has done everything he's supposed to do since he's been here. He's had a great offseason. With another season under his belt, I believe he's going to progress and do real well for us this year.
How are the new linemen doing?
Our new guys are progressing well. I'm very, very impressed with Cody Waldrop and Mason Zandi. They've done everything they're supposed to do since they've been here. Cody is a real hard worker. Mason has unbelievable athletic ability. It's going to be exciting to watch those two progress through the years.
When the team is doing 7-on-7s, what do the O-linemen do for summer workouts?
The centers get snaps. Every time they're meeting doing 7-on-7s we're meeting going over different scenarios. Every now and then we'll meet with the defensive linemen and do some one on ones without the bull rush, just getting out feet back.
What's the toughest part of the first practices?
I'd say the toughest part is the soreness. But it's so exciting. You really just look forward to being out here.
- Compiled by Dwayne McLemore