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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Q&A: USO's Marcus Johnson

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Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
USO's Marcus Johnson practices Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013.
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Marcus Johnson is the main target in the most prolific passing offense in Western Pennsylvania. The speedy receiver has 41 catches for 996 yards (24.3 per) and 17 touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound senior is a three-year starter for USO, the City League co-operative sponsorship between University Prep, Science & Technology and Obama Academy. USO (6-0, 4-0) plays Perry (3-4, 2-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Q: How much fun is it to play in USO's offense?

A: A lot. We probably throw the ball 50 times a game. That's how they do it in college. You don't see too many City schools doing that.

Q: What are your personal goals for this season?

A: I've completed my stats goals, so I just want to get a scholarship. I'm working on my footwork and speed. I run with a parachute and ladder at Heth Field in Morningside. I've been working on catching the ball and getting to the end zone.

Q: Do you think City teams should join the WPIAL?

A: I wish we could have joined it this season. The WPIAL is way harder. I think we — USO — could have done it. I'm not saying we would put up the same numbers, because our line isn't very big, but I do think with strategy we could beat some WPIAL teams.

Q: How did your team handle losing a player, Ne'Ondre Harbour, to a fatal shooting last season?

A: It affected the team very big. He was an outstanding defensive player. I think he could have helped us win. It's a shame his life was taken away. (Former Steelers safety) Mike Logan gave a big speech and brought his Super Bowl rings and passed the Lombardi Trophy around the locker room before the Perry game. It was very emotional.

Q: What's it like to play for a City League co-op?

A: Our principal at University Prep is trying to get a team just for our school. I don't understand that because there's only about five UPrep players on the football team. We're trying to get the schools together, but we had separate homecomings. We're all doing senior night at the same time.

Q: How special will Senior Night be for you?

A: My mom, Leigha Vaughn, has been my biggest supporter. Her and coaches LaRoi Johnson and Corey Davis are really hard on me. Everybody tells me how great I play, but she sits in the stands and critiques my play. She tells me what I have to do, what I'm slacking on. She's really tough on me. I like it but, sometimes, when she gets really hard on me, I tell her to chill.

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