Juwan Johnson looking to build on first start for Penn State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Akron at Penn State
Penn State receiver Juwan Johnson signals a first down after a reception against Akron on Saturday.

Juwan Johnson led Penn State in receiving yards and made a key catch on each of two first-half touchdown drives in Saturday’s season-opening rout of Akron, but he felt anything but satisfied.

“There were a lot of things I could have done better,” Johnson, a former Glassboro High School star who caught four passes for 84 yards in the 52-0 victory, said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.

“I wouldn’t say I’m satisfied because I’m not really satisfied with where we’re at. It’s a game, and I’m going to be grateful for what I’ve done and what the team has done. We got the ‘W.’ That’s all that matters. Now, we’re looking forward to Pitt and doing some more work.”

With Saturday’s performance in his first Penn State start, Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 226-pound redshirt sophomore, already has doubled his career total for receptions. It was the latest step in his growth to starting wide receiver, the product of a terrific spring, hard work in the off-season and consistency in training camp.

Johnson said the key to his development was finding a routine every day and following it.

“It’s hard to find a routine when you have class, random stuff coming up any day of the week,” he said. “So just finding a consistent routine in a day is essential for it. So I found a routine and I kept on with it.

“It’s just sacrificing time. I made school a priority. I also made working harder than anybody else a priority – catching a lot more than anybody else, or working out more than anybody else, or just outworking everybody – to be where I’m at or where I want to be.”

Johnson said another important factor was remaining patient, something his older brothers advised him to do. He saw significant action on special teams last season but caught just two passes.

“It was the whole process, and everyone says, trust the process,” said Johnson, who added that he’s not a 76ers fan. “A lot of it was patience, waiting two years. But I had to have patience and then build a routine and try to work it out, and then try to explode on the scene, sort of.”

Johnson started one second-quarter touchdown drive Saturday with a 28-yard catch of a Trace McSorley pass, then kept a drive alive with a 7-yard reception on fourth down that preceded Saquon Barkley’s 30-yard scoring run late in the first half. His long catch of the day, 33 yards, helped set up Tyler Davis’ 47-yard field goal.

Now it’s on to preparing for Pitt, which comes to Beaver Stadium on Saturday in a meeting that many followers of both teams consider a rivalry game. But Johnson said the team is simply taking it as “just game No. 2.”

“Ultimately, you can’t treat any game too high or as a rivalry game, whatever you want to call it,” he said. “It’s just another game for us.”

[Pitt coach: Game vs. Penn State ‘not just another week’]