We’re breaking down what we think will be Texas’ starting lineup. We’re doing two a day, one offensive and one defensive player, in alphabetical order on both sides.
Junior wide receiver, 6-6, 220
High school: San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian
Signing class: 2016
Career games: 25
Career starts: 10
Career numbers: 82 receptions for 1,080 yards and 5 touchdowns
Who he was — before Texas
Johnson is a legacy Longhorn. His father, Johnnie Johnson, was an All-American defensive back in the late 1970s. Collin always was likely to end up in Austin. His older brother Kirk was a three-star running back who signed with UT one year before he did, in 2015. But it was Collin, a four-star prospect, who possessed the higher ceiling because of his 6-6 frame and raw athleticism.
He was the country’s No. 44-ranked wide receiver prospect and 210th overall, per 247Sports’ composite ratings. He was the 29th overall ranked prospect in California in 2016.
He missed a chunk of his senior season with an injury but still put up 1,176 yards and 17 touchdowns in his high school career. As a junior, when he was healthy, Johnson had 49 catches for 921 yards and 11 touchdowns. He finished his sophomore season with 10 catches for 99 yards and three touchdowns, missing time with an injury again. He committed to Texas in April 2014 and was an early enrollee.
Who Johnson has been here — so far
Johnson is no longer a young pup hoping to make his mark on the field. It’s time for his massive potential to become consistent dominance as the team’s No. 1 receiver. No one on the team offers the combination of size, speed and ball skills. He’s shown that in flashes throughout his two-year college career that includes 10 starts and 25 total appearances. He started just one game as a freshman in 2016 despite playing in all 12 contests. He ended his initial campaign with 28 catches for 315 yards and three touchdowns.
Johnson showed growth as a sophomore and made nine starts in 13 games. He finished with 54 receptions for 765 yards and two touchdowns. He began his junior campaign with a bang, lighting up Maryland for 125 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. He backed it up with seven catches for 191 yards in a loss at USC. There were games that Johnson disappeared and didn’t demand double teams. He scored one fewer touchdown as a sophomore despite catching nearly twice as many passes than he did as a freshman.
Who Texas needs him to be this season
Johnson led the Horns with 765 receiving yards last season and caught two touchdowns. A big chunk of that came in a star turn against USC, when he had seven catches for a career-high 191 yards. But frankly, he expected more last season. The coaching staff expected more. Just about everyone expected more.
Johnson enters this season wanting to prove that he is indeed a superstar, someone worthy of being among the best receivers in college football. He’s learned to become more physical. He’s learned to compete on every snap. The quarterbacks can get him the ball. Johnson’s 6-6 frame will make sure of it.
But can he do something after Johnson catches it?
Filling in the lineup
So far …
WR: Legacy Longhorn Collin Johnson wants to put it all together
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