For Nevada middle linebacker James-Michael Johnson, known to his friends simply by the catchy JMJ abbreviation, this is the time to separate himself from the pack.
At the Senior Bowl this week, Johnson lined up at Mike linebacker.
A team captain and all-conference selection, Johnson recorded 100 tackles, 1 2/2 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception for the Wolfpack last season.
He finished his career with 295 career tackles with nine sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 11 pass deflections and three interceptions.
Scout caught up with the California native this week in advance of today's kickoff at Ladd-Peebles Stadium:
Scout: What has this week been like for you?
Johnson: "It's been really cool. It's been a learning experience. I learned a lot in a short period of time. I'm playing Mike linebacker. It's not totally different, but the terminology is a lot different."
Scout: What have the practices been like?
Johnson: "Oh man, the tempo is different. Everything is real quick. You move through drills real fast. I like it. It gets you more engaged in practices. At my school, practices are really intense all the time."
Scout: What kind of impression do you think you've made this week?
Johnson: "I try to show them that I can pick up the defense, command the huddle and lead the defense and I'm a good person. I'm showing my talents. I hit a couple people, a couple of linemen."
Scout: How much did what Colin Kaepernick and Virgil Green did last year in the NFL draft encourage you?
Johnson: "It helps a lot, seeing somebody I've known for three our four years, seeing their dreams come true. It gives me confidence that my dream can come true. I know how hard they worked to get there."
Scout: What's your goal for the game itself?
Johnson: "I want to fly around, make as many plays as I can, read the offenses and lead the defense."
Scout: Did you meet with a high number of teams?
Johnson: "I met with probably about 15 teams. I met a few general managers and head coaches. They said they wanted to get to know me, see what kind of person I am."
Scout: What kind of player and person will the NFL be getting with you?
Johnson: "I'm a guy who loves to work hard. I'm a competitor who loves to play the game of football and loves to do whatever he can to get better. I plan to continue to do that. I'm a three-down linebacker. My versatility can help a lot. I can play Mike or Wolf. I love playing football, I love playing linebacker."
Scout: What's your best 40-yard dash time and bench press test numbers?
Johnson: "The best time I ran was a hand-timed 4.6 last spring. In the 225 bench test, the most I ever did was 23 reps. I've been working out at Athletes Performance in Los Angeles. I hope to run a 4.6 to a 4.7 at the combine."
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