Chris Johnson #23 RB
Height: 5-11 Weight: 203 Age: 30
Born: 9/23/1985 Orlando , FL
College: East Carolina
Experience: 9th season
High School: Olympia HS [Orlando, FL]
Selected By: Tennessee Titans
Pick (Overall): 24 (24)
Few teams in the collegiate or professional ranks have such an explosive and versatile weapon as the Pirates boast with Chris Johnson. Fully recovered from turf toe that hampered him in 2006 and neck surgery during the 2007 off-season, Johnson established himself as the premier all-purpose back in the NCAA Division 1-A ranks during his final campaign.
At Olympia High School, Johnson earned All-Orange County honors as a senior and was selected the Most Valuable Player for his performance in the Orange County All-Star Game. He was rated among the top 100 players in state of Florida by Super Prep, as he scored eight touchdowns during his final campaign, despite missing four contests with an injury.
As a junior, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards. A standout weight lifter, he boasted the top power numbers among the team's skill position players with a 265-pound power clean-lift and a 315-pound bench-press. Johnson also competed in track. He was timed at 10.38 seconds in the 100-meter sprint and ran the anchor leg on the fastest 4x100 relay team in the nation that won Golden South and Golden West national titles.
Johnson proved to be a dangerous kickoff returner as a true freshman in 2004 at East Carolina, where he was originally signed as a wide receiver. He gained 765 yards on 37 attempts (20.7 avg) and made a solo tackle on special teams. He started seven of 11 games at tailback, leading the team with 561 yards and five touchdowns on 134 carries (4.2 avg). He caught 32 passes, second-best on the team, for 236 yards (7.4 avg) and two scores, totaling 42 points for the year.
Johnson ranked fourth in Conference USA and 24th nationally with 1,562 all-purpose yards, an average of 142.0 yards per game. For those efforts, he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman squad as a running back and kickoff return specialist. He was also named the team's Outstanding Newcomer-of-the-Year.
During his sophomore campaign, Johnson started all 11 games, leading the team with 176 rushes for 684 yards (3.9 avg) and six touchdowns. He grabbed 35 passes for 356 yards (10.2 avg) and two scores. His 67 receptions during his first two seasons set the school career-record for running backs. He returned 21 kickoffs for 459 yards (21.9 avg), scored 48 points and ranked second in the Conference USA ranks with an average of 136.27 all-purpose yards per game in 2005.
Listed on numerous preseason All-Conference USA first-team squads, Johnson was limited to five starting assignments, seeing limited action in seven other games during the 2006 season due to turf toe and also had neck surgery in the off-season that kept him out of spring drills. He still finished second on the team with 314 yards and four touchdowns on 78 carries (4.0 avg) while starting four times at tailback. He started the season finale at flanker, coming up with 21 catches for 176 yards (8.4 avg). He ranked third in the conference with a 22.95-yard average on 21 kickoff returns for 482 yards and a touchdown. He scored 30 points, made one solo tackle and averaged 81.0 all-purpose yards per game.
In 2007, Johnson established a new Conference USA record with an average of 227.69 all-purpose yards per game. That figure led the nation, and he was 24th with 109.5 rushing yards per game. He became the 24th player in Division 1-A history to amass more than 6,000 all-purpose yards in a career.
In 47 games at East Carolina, Johnson started 34 times at tailback and twice at receiver (vs. Wake Forest in 2004 and South Florida in 2006). He became the 11th player in school annals to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a career, amassing 2,982 yards with 32 touchdowns on 624 attempts (4.8 avg). He holds the school career record for running backs with 125 receptions for 1,296 yards (10.4 avg) and 10 scores.
Johnson holds the school career record with 2,715 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 115 kickoff returns (23.6 avg). He completed two pass attempts for no gain and recorded two solo tackles. His 264 points scored ranks second on ECU's all-time record list. He touched the ball 864 times, becoming the first player in school annals to amass more than 5,000 all-purpose yards in a career, totaling 6,993 yards.