August 19, 2007

Money ball: Backs add practice incentive

John David Booty stepped back and rifled a swing pass toward Stafon Johnson. It was a touch high and maybe a touch hard, but it still hit Johnson in the hands. The ball bounced off the sophomore running back and onto the Coliseum turf, during Thursday night's scrimmage.

Johnson pounded his palms in disgust. Not only had he screwed up in front of coaches and teammates, in the midst of a competition with eight other tailbacks for playing time, he knew what his fellow running backs would say when he returned to the sideline.

"As soon as you drop a ball, as soon as it touches your hands, we're calling out, 'That's two dollars! That's two dollars!'" Johnson said.

Those two dollars vaulted Johnson over freshman Joe McKnight to the top of the leaderboard. It is a case where no one wants to be No. 1.

Fall camp can be draining, with two full weeks of practice and football study. The running backs found a new way to make it interesting.

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