If the 2019 Valero Alamo Bowl was set to kick off on Thursday, Texas Longhorns senior wide receiver Collin Johnson would miss his fourth straight game and seventh game of the season due to hamstring issues, according to head coach Tom Herman at a bowl press conference.
Fortunately, Herman expects to have Johnson back at practice next week and available to play in San Antonio at the end of the month.
Herman also believes that his team captain won’t skip the Alamo Bowl due to considerations about his professional future, as his teammates also indicated recently. The Texas head coach admitted that he advises his draft-eligible players to participate in bowl games, but Johnson has extra incentives — he’s a Longhorn legacy who has one final chance to be on the football field with his older brother, Kirk, a senior running back.
After coming back for his senior season, the younger Johnson has been excellent when healthy, recording 82 or more receiving yards in each of the three games after his return from the early-season hamstring injury he suffered starting in the LSU game.
Without Johnson to demand safety help or exploit one-on-one coverage, the Texas offense hasn’t been at its peak, especially given the gap between the proven contributions of Johnson and the efforts of players like senior John Burt, redshirt freshman Malcolm Epps, and other inexperienced wide receivers.
Johnson missed the Texas Tech game last year and was limited at the end of the season, but still produced almost 500 more receiving yards and five more touchdowns than he has in 2019 due to injuries. Beyond sophomore Brennan Eagles, the other outside receivers on the team haven’t combined to make up that deficit. Or even really come close.
Suffice it to say, then, that if the Longhorns are going to find ways to unlock the Utes defense in San Antonio, Johnson will be a big part of that game plan and an advantage that Texas hasn’t had since early November.