The last time you heard Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week and Texas Tech in the same sentence was 2012, until Monday morning.
Redshirt freshman safety Jah'Shawn Johnson was awarded the Big 12 honors for the first time in his career after his 16 tackles and forced fumble against Arkansas. The last Red Raider to receive the honor was Cornelius Douglas on October 1st 2012.
There is no doubt Johnson has been a difference maker in this new and improved Tech (3-0) defense. He is tied with linebacker Dakota Allen for the most total tackles on the team with 25 (11 solo), is second in stops for loss with two, and is tops on the squad in both forced and recovered fumbles with two apiece.
Most notably, Johnson ripped the ball out of Arkansas standout running back Alex Collins' hands late in the game to seal Texas Tech’s 35-24 win over the Razorbacks on Saturday in Fayetteville.
His teammate, safety Justis Nelson, said Monday his performance has been motivating for the rest of the secondary.
“He gives us energy. He is a ball hawk flying around there, giving 100 percent full speed every play…It gives us energy to keep the tempo going,” Nelson said.
Defensive backs coach Kevin Curtis agreed by saying “he will run around and lay everything he has on the line for his team.”
Making sure tackles is something the Red Raider defense has struggled with in the recent past, but as you can tell by his stats, that is an area where Johnson has excelled. Coach Curtis was proud of his effort and glad he received the honor.
“He did a good job of getting guys on the ground. He had some opportunities when it was one on one going against a really good running back and he made one on one tackles,” Curtis said.
Johnson has stepped up for this defense, but conference play is around the corner. TCU will challenge the Texas Tech secondary more than any opponent thus far, but defensive coordinator David Gibbs is confident Johnson will continue to progress.
“He played hard,” Gibbs said. “He is a good young player that will continue to develop and get better. He’s all over the place but he happened to be in the right places the other night.”
Johnson is the third Red Raider to receive Big 12 Player of the Week honors this season as quarterback Patrick Mahomes earned it on offense the first two weeks and Jakeem Grant was named the special teams player of the week after his 91-yard kick return against Sam Houston State in the opener.