Johnson, Edwards, Loeffler Sign As NFL Free Agents

Former Longhorn FL B.J<B>. Johnson</B>, TE <B>Brock Edwards</B> and snapper <B>Cullen Loeffler </B>signed as free agents with NFL teams Monday.

Johnson is heading to Denver to play for the Broncos, Edwards will try to earn a spot with the San Diego Chargers and Loeffler signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

While Johnson was expected be nabbed in the later rounds following SE Roy Williams first-round selection (Detroit, No. 7 pick overall), few anticipated that he would fall behind backup SE Sloan Thomas (a seventh-round choice of the Houston Texans) all the way to free agent status.

Johnson came to Texas in 2000 as the most highly touted of the three receivers and, in fact, was listed as the top receiver nationally for that year's Parade All-American squad. He trailed only Williams last season in both yards (549) and receptions (30). Johnson led all Longhorn receivers in average ypc (18.3) including a season-best 56-yard grab (from Williams) in the win at Iowa State.

Yet, Johnson's collegiate career peaked as a freshman. Sure, Mack Brown was gushing about his down field blocking by his junior season. But Johnson set a UT freshman record with 41 receptions (a mark he would never surpass) while establishing a personal-best 698 yards in 2000. He also set a freshman single-game record with his 187 yards against Texas A&M plus a freshman-best nine-grabs against Baylor (both records remained personal bests for Johnson). Statistically, things were never as good as his inaugural campaign.

Johnson's February 9 diagnosis of a stress fracture in his left tibia (that he played on during his senior season) caused him to miss the NFL Combine later that month. Then, on Pro Timing Day in Austin last month, Johnson's stock took a hit when he tried to run but could not finish a 40 due to injury.

But B.J. will get another opportunity from a team whose head coach knows him well. Denver Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Head Coach Mike Shanahan's son Kyle Shanahan was a position-mate of Johnson's as a walk-on wide receiver for the Horns through '02.

The 6-4, 250-pound Edwards played TE and H-back for the Horns and appeared poised for a breakout senior campaign following a 16-catch, 258-yard junior season in '02. But the Fort Worth native caught just one ball for four yards in '03 as sophomore David Thomas assumed the role of go-to tight end.

The 6-4, 255-pound Loeffler has been Texas' deep snapper the past two seasons. He also handled FG/PAT attempts during most of his junior and senior seasons. He was also a first-team Academic All-Big 12 selection.

DT Marcus Tubbs, of course, joined Williams as a first-rounder Saturday when Seattle made him the 23rd pick overall. It marked the third time in four years, and just the seventh time in school history, that Texas has had two players selected in the first round.

Texas has now had a player selected in a NFL-record 67 consecutive drafts.

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