Reese: Derrick Johnson 'Needs To Come Back'

Defensive coordinator <B>Carl Reese</B> may be leaving Texas after six seasons but junior All-American WLB <B>Derrick Johnson</B> should not consider leaving after just three, Reese said. The coach of 37-years announced his resignation Tuesday but believes Johnson&#146;s best days as a Longhorn "could still be in front of him.&quot;

"I hope and pray he comes back," Reese said. "I think Derrick feels that he needs to, but I don’t know. We’ll find out. Derrick is the best athlete I’ve ever coached at linebacker. He can run and jump and get in position and do things you can’t do. I can’t teach him to do that. He’s made so much progress. Every day he goes to practice, he goes out there to get better. He works hard. His work ethic has gotten better, his leadership, his toughness, all those things."

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. "There’s no question that he’s a great football player. There’s 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."

Reese’s 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 couldn’t give him," Reese said. "I’ve given Derrick all I can give him. He can win that Butkus thing, that’s 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 Men’s 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. They’ve got to understand that I’m making the change for me while wishing the best for them. They’ll feel bad about it just like I feel about that phase of it but it will all fall into place."

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