INDIANAPOLIS–NFL teams have been working through the summer heat in both OTA’s and mandatory minicamps.
The Indianapolis Colts are no exception.
And one former Missouri State Bear is in Colts camp and enjoying every single moment of it.
It’s been quiet an adjustment for former Missouri State Bear Eric Johnson.
He’s gone from being old man river on the Bears, to a rookie with the Indianapolis Colts.
“All the vets, all the thoughts you have how are they going to come in dogging on you all the time. Make you rook to this and rook do that. They’re really coming in and they want you to get better,” said Johnson.
The Indianpolis Colts picked Johnson in the fifth round of April’s NFL draft.
He became the 18th Missouri State Bear to be drafted by an NFL team; the first in 11 years.
“Seeing Eric play in those bowl games. We tried to maximize that publicity as much as we could. It’s really a credit to him on how mard he works. And how much he changed his body. And really his dedication to his craft. He became a student of the game and really understands the game. That will carry him forward,” said Missouri State coach Bobby Petrino.
Eric Johnson spent six years at Missouri State, including a redshirt season.
The Illinois native made 131 career tackles including 19 and a half tackles for loss.
He was one of a handful of Bears to stick with the program through the coaching change.
And he thrived under Bobby Petrino’s guidance.
Johnson:”I feel like personally it helped me because I needed more skill work in order to transform my game. And I got a lot of that from my extra years. We had a new coaching staff come in and changed up everything. It gave me more time to learn that stuff.”
Now the 6-foot-4, 300 pounder is wearing the Blue and White of the Colts.
And Johnson’s had to change defensive schemes and that’s kept him busy in his first few months in Indy.
“But now what I have to work into is transforming my body from the college athlete to the NFL athlete. There’s a bigger step. I have to get faster twitch muscles. Even though I have that strength, I have to combine that with speed,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s path to the NFL was not easy.
He was not invited to the combine.
Rather then getting down, Johnson proved his skills through pro days and word of mouth.
“You can’t be thinking about all that stuff. You have to just think about what you’re focusing on now. OK, I’m not at the combine, what do I need to do. I need to go to my Pro Day. That’s my new target. And what do I need to impove on or get to perform the best at that specific event,” said Johnson.