Johnson proves to be Oregon's surprise star

DJ Johnson impressed in his first start as tight end in Saturday's win over Stanford.

Posted: Nov 8, 2020 11:53 PM
Updated: Nov 8, 2020 11:56 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- It wasn't much of a surprise that Oregon football defeated Stanford on Saturday night. The Ducks tallied 496 yards of total offense in the 35-14 win at Autzen Stadium.

One aspect of the game that might've caught many off guard was Oregon tight end DJ Johnson. Johnson had five catches for 55 yards. Johnson also had Oregon's only receiving touchdown of the night on a pass from quarterback Tyler Shough to give the Ducks a 14-7 lead before halftime. 

"The easy thing is playing freely," Johnson said. "When you know what you're doing it's easy to play fast and physical."

Johnson made the transition from defensive end to tight end this offseason. With some of the other tight ends out with injuries on Saturday, Johnson was given the start right before kick off. 

"That's a 270-pound jumbo athlete," Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said. "He's fast and he has good hands. He's a good blocker and he's conscientious and tough."

Not only did Johnson adjust to a new position this offseason, he had to recover from an injury over the summer.

"I was just really proud of how he's shown it and his hard work has really paid off," Shough said. "Going from d-end to tight end is a really big mental switch. You've got to learn the whole new nuances of the offense."

Johnson transferred from Miami to Oregon in 2018 as a defensive lineman. But if you told Johnson he'd be playing tight end a few years ago, he wouldn't be surprised. 

"I wouldn't be too surprised because I know what I'm capable of," Johnson said. 

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