On Sunday, Collin Johnson says he just plans to celebrate his birthday with his family.
If those plans seem low-key for turning 21, don’t worry. Johnson was the center of attention at a party at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday that was attended by 95,124 people.
The junior receiver had 124 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in UT’s 31-16 win over No. 17 TCU.
“This win today, it meant a lot. It was really an early birthday gift for me,” said Johnson, whose seven receptions tied a career-high. He also topped 100 receiving yards for the third time in his career.
Texas WR Collin Johnson went FLYING for the TD catch!
The Longhorns took down No. 17 TCU! pic.twitter.com/5b1EAZADyw
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 23, 2018
Johnson’s biggest moment as a Longhorn had been last year’s 191-yard effort at USC. He followed that performance up with a six-catch game against the Trojans last week, which led quarterback Sam Ehlinger to be asked this week if Johnson needed to be inspired by USC film before each of his games. No, Ehlinger responded, “it’s always fun to get Collin with a 1-on-1 matchup.”
Targeted nine times against the Horned Frogs, Johnson’s first catch went for 45 yards. Later in the first quarter, a fourth-down catch extended UT’s first touchdown drive. In the second half, though, the 6-6, 220-pound Johnson snagged his biggest pass.
With UT trailing in final minute of the third quarter, Johnson got open and dove for a 31-yard pass from Ehlinger. He caught the football and gave Texas a 17-16 lead it never relinquished.
“They gave me a post, and I was like, man, I’m not the fastest but I’m just going to lay out and try to make the play,” Johnson said. “I was happy just to make the play for the team and kind of help the team out.”
Johnson was not UT’s only standout. Junior Lil’Jordan Humphrey had four catches and 38 of his 77 receiving yards came on a fourth-quarter touchdown. Humphrey has scored in each of the last three weeks.
Texas last had two receivers with at least 40 catches in 2014. Through four games, Humphrey and Johnson have 21 and 20 receptions. So far this season, Texas and Texas Tech are among the eight FBS-level programs that can claim two players with 20 catches.
“I’ve been saying this since the season started: I don’t feel like anybody in the country can really guard us,” said Humphrey, who has said Johnson’s downfield blocking shouldn’t be overlooked on his touchdown catches. “I feel like we’re one of the best duos in the nation, (one of the) best wide receiver group in the nation.”
Johnson and Humphrey accounted for half of UT’s 22 receptions. Running back Tre Watson also caught four balls, while receivers Devin Duvernay and Joshua Moore and tight end Andrew Beck each had two. TCU had been allowing 185.3 passing yards per game, but Ehlinger had a 255-yard day.
Texas will next face a Kansas State team that is coming off a 35-6 loss at West Virginia. The Wildcats surrendered 356 passing yards on Saturday and the Mountaineers’ five touchdown catches were divvied up between three receivers.