ECU running back Johnson hopes for high selection
Published 7:44 pm Saturday, April 26, 2008
By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — Chris Johnson has been all over the map during the last four months.
After ECU’s victory in the Hawaii Bowl in December, Johson began showcasing his skills for NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
A month later, he was poked and prodded at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Since March, he’s flown to Washington, Arizona, Dallas, New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Tennessee and St. Louis to meet with NFL general managers and coaches.
And a month ago, he put on a show in Greenville during ECU’s pro day for more than 20 NFL teams.
Now, he anxiuosly waits at his family’s home in Orlando for his name to be called in this weekend’s NFL draft.
Johnson has been quietly climbing up most NFL teams’ draft boards since February when he ran a 4.24 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. It was the fastest time ever recorded at the scouting combine by any player.
The Pirates’ star running back is predicted to be selected anywhere from the middle of the second round to late in the third round by most NFl draft analysts.
When he’s drafted, Johnson will become just the fourth ECU player drafted in the last five years — joining wide receiver Aundrae Allison (fifth round selection by Minnesota in 2007) and tackles Guy Whimper (fourth round pick by N.Y. Giants in 2006) and Brian Rimpf (seventh round pick by Baltimore in 2004 — and the highest Pirates’ draft pick since 1992 when the Cowboys selected linebacker Robert Jones with the 24th selection of the first round.
Johnson had one of the most memorable seasons in East Carolina history in 2007 as he set a single-season record for all-purpose yards with 2,960. The senior tailback rushed for 1,423 yards and 17 touchdowns and caught 37 passes for 528 yards and six scores. He also returned 36 kicks for 1,009 yards, including a 96-yard touchdown return.
Johnson said that more than 20 teams have been in contact with him and his agent Joel Seagall. And although he grew up rooting for Dallas, he says he has no preference as to where he lands.
For the first time in months, Johnson will kick back at his families home in Orlando and relax in front of the television. And of course, the T.V. will be tuned to ESPN.