Yahoo Sports NFL writer Charles McDonald spoke one-on-one with the projected No. 1 wide receiver in this year’s NFL draft on what he plans to bring to his new team and when he knew he was ready for the next level of football. Watch the full interview on the Yahoo Sports YouTube page.
CHARLES MCDONALD: Hey, everybody. This is Charles McDonald from Yahoo! Sports. I'm joined by a very special guest today, former TCU wide receiver Quinton Johnson, who has a chance to be the top receiver off the board in the upcoming 2023 NFL draft. So your freshman year, you averaged 22.1 yards per catch that season, which is pretty crazy for someone who was at prom a few months before that. What made it easier for you in your transition there?
QUENTIN JOHNSTON: Yeah, just coming in initially with the yards after the catch, just period, like, OK, I know these guys. They've been here for three, four, five years. I'm honestly not trying to get hit right now, especially coming in. I was like, 187 coming in, I think, playing that first year. So I mean, I was tall. But I wasn't the biggest guy. So I played running back, back in peewee football and then middle school.
So my whole process of thinking was just, man, just get away from this as fast as you can. So I feel like with having that background of being a running back, being forced to be shifty and stuff like that kind of translated when I came up here to play receiver.
CHARLES MCDONALD: What's a receiver that you would say kind of model yourself after when you're trying to get ready and prep and guys that you feel like, oh, I can kind of play the game like they did.
QUENTIN JOHNSTON: Oh yeah, so somebody I've been watching coming into college, just coming off the ball and all this, losing [INAUDIBLE] routes is Davante Adams, for sure. He's somebody I've been very high on. I watch all his interviews, all the little film breakdowns-- and I mean, from the start, from the time he came to the league, had a rough start, to how he overcame all of that, and then obviously now, one of the best receivers in the NFL.
CHARLES MCDONALD: What was the moment in college where you had either-- I feel like I'm ready to declare for the draft, or was there a moment where you were like, OK, I can really do this NFL thing and be a highly-touted receiver. What did that moment kind of look like for you?
QUENTIN JOHNSTON: First year, I was like, OK, I'm pretty good. But obviously, the league was still kind of far [INAUDIBLE] for me. Sophomore year, I started heating up. And then when we played OU, obviously, historically, OU is a very, very good football program. I was winning Big 12 championships and everything like that. I had really good players on the team.
But I don't know, it was just something about that [INAUDIBLE]. I mean, because honestly, that was the first time I played in a packed stadium. I feel like, yeah, this is what I was blessed to do, blessed to play-- ended up scoring three touchdowns that game and had-- I mean, was basically put on the highlight reel. One of my touchdowns, I got some Randy Moss gloves for. I got to talk to him. So that was pretty cool, too.
CHARLES MCDONALD: All right, let's fast forward real quick to the end of April. You've been picked by whatever team. What would you tell fans, like, this is one part of my game that you should be excited about from my rookie year?
QUENTIN JOHNSTON: One part of my game? Being a 6'4'' receiver, playing like I'm 5' 8 as far as yards after catch, just overall running the ball. And then I feel like something that hadn't got showcased as much as I wanted to in college that I for sure want to translate to the league is my high ball.
I could dunk, you know? Not bragging, just being honest, playing basketball, I really, like, developed some springs in my legs. So I just-- I'm trying to just go up top as much as I can.
CHARLES MCDONALD: Appreciate the time, Quentin. And thanks for stopping by.
QUENTIN JOHNSTON: [INAUDIBLE]. I appreciate you guys.