Johnson, the first Texas All-American linebacker in 20 years, was also Texas first Butkus Award Finalist. Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the NFL Draft. Previously, Johnson said he would spend the first part of January mulling that decision with his mother and brother.
"As a football coach, Derrick Johnson needs another year of maturity," Reese continued. "Theres no question that hes a great football player. Theres no question that he can play at the next level. But, shoot, he needs to come back and win the Butkus Award and I think he can do all those things."
Reeses resignation raised the possibility that Johnson is more likely to leave school rather than return for just one year under a new coordinator. But Reese believes the change might be beneficial for the consensus First-Team All-Big 12 selection.
"A new coach coming in coaching Derrick might tweak him a little bit and give him something I couldnt give him," Reese said. "Ive given Derrick all I can give him. He can win that Butkus thing, thats what I hope he does. I want him to come back. I hope he comes back."
Johnson was Texas leading tackler with 116 (75 solo) and also led the Horns in TFL (18), most games with 10-plus tackles (7) and fumble recoveries (3). He finished second on Texas defense with four INT and 8 PBU.
Reese said he has not had a chance to speak with individual players since informing head coach Mack Brown and Mens Athletic Director De Loss Dodds of his decision this past weekend.
"They bled for you and sweated for you and got a lot of victories for us," Reese said. "I will miss every one of them. You miss the players. Theyve got to understand that Im making the change for me while wishing the best for them. Theyll feel bad about it just like I feel about that phase of it but it will all fall into place."