The search to fill three positional coaching vacancies now has its first addition with Anthony Johnson joining Charlie Strong's staff as the new running backs coach, the school announced Saturday.
"There's no way I could put into words how excited I am about the opportunity to come back to Texas and be the running backs coach," Johnson said in a statement. "I grew up a Longhorn fan, played at Texas and bleed orange through and through. This is just an awesome day for me and my family!"
Johnson was a running back at Texas under Mack Brown from 2001-2005, and heads back to the 40 Acres after coaching the running backs at Toledo for the past two seasons, in which the Rockets' backfield led the Mid-American Conference in rushing each season. Johnson also had a stint as the running backs coach at Sam Houston State from 2010-2013, and served as a quality control coach at Texas following his playing career from 2007-2009.
Coach Strong raved about Johnson's experience at the position, and immediate chemistry between he and other staff members:
"Our entire staff thought that Anthony was a perfect fit to coach our running backs," Strong said. "He's a tremendous young coach with great energy and enthusiasm. Anthony played high school ball in Texas, played and coached at Texas and really knows the pride and tradition of our place and our state well. He's a guy that has played running back at a high level, who also has gained a great deal of experience coaching the position and just has so much passion for the game and drive as a coach. You could really see that during our visits, and I know Sterlin (Gilbert) and the offensive staff really hit it off with him, too. He'll be a super addition to our staff, and we're looking forward to getting him here."
Johnson, too, echoed Strong's sentiments:
"I spent a lot of time with Sterlin, Matt (Mattox) and Jeff (Traylor), and I feel like I really connected with them. They're all tremendous football coaches with a great vision for what they want to accomplish. I love what they're bringing offensively, and I've been fortunate enough to coach in a very similar style of offense for years. I'm really looking forward to getting in that room with all of the talented running backs at Texas and playing my role to help get the offense going."
Johnson takes over the one offensive unit with certain solidity, headlined by D'Onte Foreman and late-season breakout back, sophomore Chris Warren III. Sophomore Kirk Johnson and true freshman Kyle Porter will also be under Johnson's guidance. Collectively, Johnson inherits a running back corps that any coach in the nation will be thrilled to help develop.
It will be interesting to see if he can continue his success and lead the Longhorns to a Big 12-leading rushing attack in 2016, and how his style will mesh with Texas hopes of spreading the ball out more.
*All quotes courtesy of TexasSports.com