Keelan Johnson Interview
Sr / Arizona State / Safety

Updated - 4-3-13

By: Alex Khvatov


Alex Khvatov:  What are your measurements (height, weight and forty time)?

Keelan Johnson:  I was right around a 4.45 forty at the pro day.  I am 6’0, 209 pounds.          


Alex Khvatov:  When you were coming out of high school, what programs showed interest in you?

Keelan Johnson:  I had three offers.  Nebraska, ASU and Arizona. 


Alex Khvatov:  Why did you decide to go to Arizona State?

Keelan Johnson:  I was committed to Nebraska.  It was my first interaction with the school.  It was a first college experience.  When it came to crunch time, I decided that I wanted to go to Arizona State.  They were coming off a 10-2 record while Nebraska was going through a coaching change.  I wanted to go where it was structured already.  That is why I chose ASU.


Alex Khvatov:  Where are you training for the NFL Draft?

Keelan Johnson:  I am back in Arizona right now.  I am working out at ASU.  I was training at the Factory training facility in Westlake, CA. 


Alex Khvatov:  Were you happy with the results at your pro day?

Keelan Johnson:  My numbers didn’t really stack up with what I did at the Combine when it came to the broad jump and the vertical jump.  But I was satisfied with the field work.  I was satisfied with how I performed in the drills.  I felt that it went really well. 


Alex Khvatov:  Describe your Scouting Combine experience. 

Keelan Johnson:  It was a love and hate type of thing.  It is all mental.  They try to keep you out as late as they can and wake you up as early as they can.  You are constantly going through physical and mental examinations.  You do psyche and reaction tests.  Those things kind of drain you.  Then you are getting bombarded with the same questions from each scout.  It becomes competitive.  Overall, it was a lifetime experience to be there with the other great athletes.  I will always remember it. 


Alex Khvatov:  Did you enjoy your experience at the 2013 East/West Shrine Game?

Keelan Johnson:  I feel that I had more exposure at the Combine.  The drills went a lot faster, and everything was spotlighted on you in Indy.  I had a good week while I was out there in Florida.  But there were so many players during the game that needed to be rotated in.  We had a deep safety class.  Your reps were limited.  You just had to maximize your reps when you got them.  It didn’t help that the clock would constantly tick.  I felt like there were a lot of reps that were wasted because the clock didn’t stop. 


Alex Khvatov:  Did you bond with any of the players during that week?

Keelan Johnson:  I bonded well with all of the secondary players.  I bonded with Micah Hyde from Iowa State (cornerback), Bradley McDougald from Kansas (safety), Nigel Malone from Kansas State (cornerback) and Jahleel Addae from Central Michigan (safety).  We all just clicked and got on the same page. 


Alex Khvatov:  Which players stood out to you during the week of practice?

Keelan Johnson:  I think that Bradley McDougald stood out to me.  He was a memorable guy.  Micah Hyde was the first guy that I started talking to.  I watched those guys a lot because we bonded during the week.  Those guys stood out to me.   


Alex Khvatov:  What was the most memorable experience for you at the Shrine Game?

Keelan Johnson:  It was definitely the hospital.  I didn’t know how I was going to feel.  I didn’t know if I really wanted to be around children that day.  It was great being there and interacting with them on that day.  It was heart changing event.  I would definitely recommend participating in it one day.  I definitely see myself going back there in the future.      


Alex Khvatov:  What is the feedback that you have received from scouts and coaches during this draft process?

Keelan Johnson:  I could be an early third to a mid-round pick.  I am feeling right around third or fourth round.  I think that I am one of the better safeties coming out of this draft class.                


Alex Khvatov:  You played in 49 games at Arizona State.  Tell me about your overall career at ASU.

Keelan Johnson:  My last year at ASU was my best year.  I was a rotational player before my senior season.  I did a lot of special teams work.  I met a lot of great guys that were on the team.  I have built some lifetime relationships.  My senior year put me in the position to show a lot of teams that I still have a lot more football left in me.  It was my first year running the defense.  It showed that I was capable of playing the safety position. 


Alex Khvatov:  What was the transition like this past year going from Coach Erickson to Coach Graham?    

Keelan Johnson:  I will tell you this about Todd Graham.  He came in and identified the problem at hand.  He identified the problem that kept us from being successful.  Everybody knew that we had talented players.  We had talented running backs and a talented defense.  The problem was with discipline that kept us from winning those close games.  He let everyone know that he is the man calling the shots.  He told us that we all need to get on board fast.  I was one of the guys that got on board, and the transition went smoothly.  He definitely put me in the position to have a chance to play at the next level. 


Alex Khvatov:  Is your best football still ahead of you?

Keelan Johnson:  Yes, it is.  It was my first year taking over the starting position.  I learned the defense very quickly.  There is not as much wear and tear on my body.  I am capable of doing a lot of things that teams will ask for.  I still have a lot of fuel in the tank.  There is definitely a lot more football ahead of me. 


Alex Khvatov:  What do you enjoy the most about being a safety?  

Keelan Johnson:  I like being the general.  You are the hammer and not the nail.  There is a lot of responsibility back there.  There are a lot of players in front that depend on you.  I like being depended on.  It is not a position for everybody to play. 


Alex Khvatov:  What are your strengths?

Keelan Johnson:  I pride myself on being a smart safety.  I am physical back there.  I am a game changer.  I like to make the receiver think about catching that ball when he comes across the middle.  There is nothing more exciting than seeing a big hit. 


Alex Khvatov:  What areas of your game do you need to improve upon? 

Keelan Johnson:  I need to continue to learn the game. 


Alex Khvatov:  What is the highlight of your career?

Keelan Johnson:  It was definitely my last three games at ASU.  When we played Arizona, we were down 14-0 in the first quarter.  Everybody thought that we would get blown out.  Guys rallied around, and I created two turnovers.  I had a fumble and an interception.  Our bowl game against Navy was a tear jerking moment. 


Alex Khvatov:  What was it like to play in your first ever bowl game against Navy during your senior season?  

Keelan Johnson:  It was a great feeling.  Coach Graham came in and he changed the program.  We finished 8-5 during that year.  It was the best season since I have been at ASU.  It was great to see the program end the season on a high note with a win.  They can use it as a springboard into next season.  It was great that I was part of it. 


Alex Khvatov:  Who is the toughest player that you have faced during your career?

Keelan Johnson:  I like the way Johnathan Franklin out of UCLA ran the ball.  He was tough.  He would try to bruise you and try to pick up those extra yards. 


Alex Khvatov:  What is your favorite NFL team?

Keelan Johnson:  I am a big fan of the Redskins.  My favorite player was Sean Taylor.  I have always liked him as a player. 


Alex Khvatov:  Who is the next great player at Arizona State?    

Keelan Johnson:  Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball.  We have DT Will Sutton and LB Carl Bradford.  I feel like the boundary safety Alden Darby will have a breakout season.  On the offensive side of the ball, we have RB D.J. Foster, RB Marion Grice and QB Taylor Kelly.        


Alex Khvatov:  What did you enjoy the most about playing college football?

Keelan Johnson:  The experience of being around other players that are trying to achieve the same goals and dreams.  You run into a lot of guys that are just satisfied of being on the team.  But it is great to see guys that try to change the program.  I was playing with great secondary players at ASU my senior year.  We were one of the top ranked pass defenses in the nation. 


Alex Khvatov:  What are your hobbies?

Keelan Johnson:  I listen to a lot of music.  I watch a lot of movies.  I play video games.


Alex Khvatov:  Finish the sentence, Keelan Johnson is….

Keelan Johnson:  A tough, dependable, hard-working young man.   




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