Oct. 15, 2010

d up on the wrong end of a highlight reel hit.

Or, as Murray State special teams coach Mitch Stewart put it, "Not everyone can return punts. It's like playing catcher in baseball. Not just anyone can have the bat swinging inches from [his] face and still do his duty."

MSU junior Dontrell Johnson is proving the steely nerves and lightning quick decisionmaking necessary for the job isn't just something that been honed with experience.

That's because the nation's top returner at nearly 31 yards per attempt never returned punts before becoming a Racer this season. Not at Garden City College in Kansas. Not at Colquitt County High School in Moultrie, Ga.

But his lack of a resume didn't temper his attitude when in pre-season workouts, Johnson volunteered for the job.

"Dontrell jumped right in," Stewart said.

And what a payoff it's been.