After being named to the Bednarik Award watch list last week, Texas Longhorns senior linebacker Gary Johnson was named to the Butkus Award watch list, which is presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker. The watch list contains 51 linebackers, reflecting the legendary “51” jersey worn by Dick Butkus.
Derrick Johnson is the lone Longhorn to capture the Butkus Award (2004).
After transferring from Dodge City Community College, Johnson made an instant impact for Texas, as he appeared in all 13 games last season. He finished fourth on the team in tackles with 60, had six tackles for a loss, and two sacks. His best game came on the road against West Virginia in sloppy weather conditions, in which he recorded seven tackles, a forced fumble, and a sack in a 28-14 win. In the absence of Co-Big 12 DPOY Malik Jefferson, Johnson totaled 10 tackles against Missouri. He consistently flashed glimpses of how elite he can be as an inside linebacker.
Now without Jefferson, Johnson will lead a younger, more inexperienced linebacker group this fall. Entering only his second and last season as a Longhorn, he’s expected to emerge as a key cog in Todd Orlando’s defense.