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Archive for Saturday, November 1, 2003

Johnson following cousin’s example

Freshman receiver’s relative was standout at A&M

November 1, 2003

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Moderick Johnson had one special request last winter during scholarship negotiations with Kansas University's football coaches.

"Even before I came on my visit, I told coach Jones (Travis, former KU assistant) I wanted to wear No. 6 in college," said Johnson, KU's 6-foot-5, 190-pound true freshman receiver from Houston. "My cousin wore No. 6 at Texas A&M and I wanted to wear that number as a tribute to him."

Johnson's cousin is former Aggie wide out Robert Ferguson, now in his third year with the Green Bay Packers.

"I really didn't find out he was my cousin until my freshman year of high school," said Johnson, KU's No. 6, who chose the Jayhawks over Northwestern, Wisconsin, LSU and others.

"He was at Tyler Junior College at the time and came up and stayed at my house in Houston for a week. We went out a lot. He taught me a lot of things, not just things on the field but about life. I really look up to him. I admire him."

Ferguson played two years at Tyler, just one year at Texas A&M, electing to turn pro after a season in which he became A&M's single-season leader in receiving yards with 885.

"I like to call my cousin, 'raw,''' said Johnson. "He is very raw. He can take a D-back and do what he wants to him at any time. I haven't been in college long. I am working on that part," said Johnson, who has six catches for 52 yards in eight games

Johnson remembers watching his cousin play in a game at Kyle Field, site of today's KU's Texas A&M contest.

"Man, it's crazy. It really is," Johnson said of the gameday atmosphere at College Station. "The fans at A&M are die hard. They love the Aggies. The tradition is great. It's great to be around even if you are on the visiting team.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere. We are not focused on how hard it'll be to play there, but focused on getting this win. We are going to go there and try to get a win no matter how hostile it will be."

Johnson was recruited some by Texas A&M, but never received an official offer from the Aggies.

"If they had offered me after I visited Kansas, I know I would not have accepted it. No chance," Johnson said. "When I visited Kansas, truthfully I fell in love with the place. Kansas is everything I was looking for in a school. I love it here."

Johnson is now hoping maybe someday his cousin will get to see him play a college game, perhaps a bowl game.

"We've got a great bunch of players and coaches here and a great program," said Johnson, who insists KU can salvage the season despite the loss of injured senior quarterback Bill Whittemore.

"Our other quarterbacks are natural-born leaders, too," Johnson said of Brian Luke, Adam Barmann and John Nielsen.

Johnson thinks true freshman Barmann will do fine when he makes his college debut today.

"Those first few snaps are the key, they'll get you every time," Johnson said, asked what's most difficult in playing as a true freshman. "I think he's up for the job. He's a great player. A great guy. Either way we go, we'll be fine. The receivers and quarterbacks all get along and are on the same page, so it doesn't really matter who plays."

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