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October 13, 2010Safety Dontae Johnson became the third true freshman to start a game this season when he earned the nod at field safety. Johnson had four tackles, including two solo hits, and broke up a pass in the 44-17 win over Boston College.
"I did okay," Johnson said. "There were a lot of things I could have done a lot better. Watching the film I see the mistakes that I made, and personally I feel like I also could have done better with the mistakes, just being in the wrong spot at the wrong time, just little things that can be fixed."
Johnson, 6-foot-3, 184 pounds, learned during the middle of last week that he was going to get the opportunity to start. He tried to make it a priority to have fun with the assignment, and he also kept the news quiet.
"I didn't really tell that many people," he said. "I wanted to keep it as low as possible as I can cause I didn't want to let a lot of outside things get to my head and mess up my focus. At the end, people find out, so it was funny."
Johnson also said that rising to the top of the depth chart for the Boston College game did not change his preparations before the contest.
"It was just another football game, a tough, physical football game," Johnson said. "We had to play a tough, physical BC team. I was just getting prepared for that and just ready to help my team out any way I could."
For Johnson, his decision to sign with NC State over offers from Connecticut, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Virginia and West Virginia has been validated. He is playing a significant role on a 5-1 squad that is on the cusp of being ranked in the top 25.
"I just came in ready to work and try to help the team out, but being able to come in and play as early as I did and starting the fifth game of the season, it's been a great experience," Johnson said. "I really enjoy being down here with all the guys, the players, the coaches are a great staff, and the atmosphere down here is just amazing, so I love it."
This Saturday Johnson will get his first taste of a rivalry game at NC State when the Pack travels to Greenville, N.C., to face East Carolina in front of 50,000 mostly ECU fans at Dowdy Ficklen Stadium.
Johnson said that the coaches have been preaching to the team this week how important this game is because it is an in-state rival. He also is excited about the opportunity to play in front of a hostile crowd.
"It should be a great atmosphere and a great game," Johnson said. "It's definitely going to be a challenge cause this is a team that runs the spread so well. We really haven't seen it as much as they do it, and I'm being told that they rank pretty high in the pass in the nation, so it's going to be a challenge for our secondary. We got to be ready to go in the secondary."