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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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One to watch: Taurus Johnson, wide receiver
By Greg Auman
Published August 31, 2007
SMALL DOSES, BIG PLAYS:Taurus Johnson was named USF's offensive playmaker of the year in 2006, a feat all the more impressive considering he started only two games and topped 50 receiving yards just twice as a sophomore.
But only Matt Grothe scored more touchdowns than Johnson's five last season: that number could easily double in 2007 as he becomes an every-game starter.
"(I expect) a lot. An awful lot," coach Jim Leavitt said. "He means a lot to us. We want to get the ball in his hands more."
SAVING A SEASON: There's no telling how USF's 2006 season might have gone had Johnson not had a huge second half against Florida International.
The Panthers, who went 0-12 last season, led USF 20-7 late in the third quarter. Johnson scored on a 14-yard reverse, then caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Grothe with 2:33 to play, allowing the Bulls to escape with a 21-20 victory.
Johnson finished with six catches for 106 yards; he had caught three passes in his first 13 games at USF.
DON'T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT: Visit Youtube.com and type in Johnson's name and you'll find a nine-minute video of his 2006 highlights. The parts you shouldn't miss:
0:20: His reverse for a touchdown against Pittsburgh; watch him juke a Pitt safety to the ground at the 13-yard line.
1:40: Nothing showcases his breakaway open-field speed like his 79-yard touchdown against Syracuse.
4:02: Hands? Check out a one-handed grab against Rutgers.
7:20: The reverse against FIU goes down as a 14-yard touchdown, but he takes a hit at the 22-yard line and cuts back to the 26 before weaving through what seems like the entire Panthers defense. His game-winning touchdown - celebrated from the 1-yard line on - follows.
DISAPPEARING ACT: For all the excitement surrounding his FIU game, Johnson wasn't a major factor for the next two months, totaling 154 receiving yards over the next six games with only one catch longer than 18 yards. His only touchdown catch in the final 11 games was the 79-yard touchdown against Syracuse.
But it's hard to be more efficient in scoring than Johnson has been on reverses: He had five carries last season and took three of them to the end zone, scoring against FIU, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.