When Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson suit up for the Texas Longhorns’ Sugar Bowl showdown with the Georgia Bulldogs, they’ll do so with their place in history at stake. Whether or not that New Year’s Day in New Orleans will mark the final time the two juniors don burnt orange and white is a discussion for another day, but if that does ultimately come to pass, Humphrey and Johnson’s curtain call will come equipped with the opportunity to cement themselves as the most productive pass-catching duo in program history.
Surely, you just scoffed at such a sentiment, saying to yourself none can come close to Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley’s prolific 2008 campaign, which saw the two total 2,183 yards. Yet, Humphrey and Johnson have already come close, and they’re now a productive Sugar Bowl showing from leapfrogging even that sensational season a full decade ago.
Between Humphrey’s 1,109 yards, which saw the junior become the first Longhorn to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark since John Harris in 2014 and just the seventh Longhorn to ever do so — Shipley and Roy Williams each accomplished that feat twice — and Johnson’s 945 receiving yards of his own, the suddenly elite pass-catching pair has collectively amassed 2,054 yards this season.
Surprisingly enough, such a showing has been considerably overshadowed within their own conference, as neither earned All-Big 12 honors and falls short of Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb creeping towards 2,400 yards and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley and Ja’Deion High owning upwards of 2,220 yards.
However, as far as Texas’ storied history is concerned, only 130 yards separate Humphrey and Johnson from boasting more receiving yards than any other duo to ever don burnt orange.
Just 130 yards. That’s it.
That’s a standard Humphrey and Johnson have surpassed 11 times this season — the Kansas State and Kansas games being the exception. In fact, Humphrey has single-handedly compiled 130 yards on three different occasions this season against Oklahoma (133), West Virginia (143), and Texas Tech (159), while Johnson has done so twice — against Baylor (132) and Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship (177).
Collin Johnson did not get a single vote for All-Big 12 honors. Seven catches for 169 yards and counting today. pic.twitter.com/eRBt4mi1ca— Max Olson (@max_olson) December 1, 2018
Furthermore, Humphrey and Johnson merely matching their season averages of 85.3 and 78.8 receiving yards per game, respectively, would set the new standard 34 yards higher than the height Shipley and Cosby reached in 2008.
Not to mention, if that 130-yard mark is met to make Humphrey and Johnson the newly-minted most productive pair in school history, they’ll have accomplished the feat despite seeing far fewer opportunities than Cosby and Shipley enjoyed with Colt McCoy orchestrating the offense. The latter receiving core capped the 2008 campaign with 181 receptions; 37 more than Johnson and Humphrey have hauled in thus far with 144 catches.
More individually, there are still milestones to be met as well.
Currently sitting at 79 receptions for 1,109 yards and nine touchdowns, Humphrey needs only one more touchdown grab to join Cosby’s 2008 campaign (92 rec., 1,123 yards, 10 TDs) and Shipley’s 2009 season (116 rec., 1,485 yards, 14 TDs) as the only receivers in school history to record at least 80 receptions, 1,100 yards and 10 scores in a single season, as noted by 247Sports Jeff Howe.
Lil'Jordan Humphrey had a great season for Texas, despite the result in the Big 12 Championship game pic.twitter.com/jys7ADrsQM— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 3, 2018
Johnson, on the other hand, is just 55 yards shy of cementing himself as only the eighth Longhorn to meet the 1,000-yard milestone in a single season, which has only happened 10 times at Texas in total.
Quick look at Collin Johnson's season totals to date pic.twitter.com/P5E42i5V5F— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 10, 2018
If he is to reach that feat, Johnson and Humphrey would then join none other than Cosby and Shipley as the only receiving duo in school history to feature multiple 1,000-yard receivers in a single season.
Preseason praise and expectations considered, few could have accurately projected Humphrey and Johnson blossoming into such a prolific and productive pairing; not this season, at least. That, however, has come to pass, and the two have now set themselves up with the opportunity to depart to play for a paycheck after suiting up for the Sugar Bowl.
If that New Year’s Day in New Orleans does mark the final time Humphrey and Johnson don burnt orange and white, well, they’ll do so with the opportunity to cement themselves as the most productive pass-catching duo in program history.