Bears Hire Johnson as D-Line Coach

LAKE FOREST – Lovie Smith rounded out his coaching staff for the '05 campaign on Wednesday, when he hired Don Johnson to lead the defensive line.

Johnson has spent the last five seasons with UCLA, serving as the defensive line coach since 2001 and recruiting coordinator since 2004. He will take over a unit that is deep in talent, but lacking experience.

Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown are the projected starting defensive ends with former first round pick Michael Haynes as the top backup. On the interior of the line Tommie Harris started 16 games as a rookie and flashed signs of having Pro Bowl potential. Ian Scott went from being on the bubble to make the 53-man roster to starting 13 games. Terry Johnson suffered through rookie growing pains, but should push for more playing time in year two. At 29, Alfonso Boone is the veteran of the unit and is the team's best run stuffer.

Johnson will replace Karl Dunbar, who spent one season in the position before accepting a job at LSU. The defensive line doubled their sack production under Dunbar going from 12 in 2003 to 24 last season.

Johnson is a veteran of 18 seasons of coaching at the collegiate level. Prior to his stint at UCLA, the New Jersey native coached defensive ends and the punt return unit at Nevada-Reno from 1995-99. The Wolfpack won three conference titles and made two bowl appearances during his tenure. While at UNR, Johnson spent two off-seasons in the NFL minority coaching internship program with the San Francisco 49ers under then-head coach Steve Mariucci.

Johnson spent eight years coaching at two different colleges in southern California. He began his college coaching career in 1987 as an assistant at Riverside Community College. He spent two years at Cal State Fullerton from 1991-92 before the school dropped the football program and he returned to Riverside for two seasons.

After playing his college ball at Jersey City State in New Jersey, Johnson's playing career culminated with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL after earning a free agent tryout with the New York Jets. He graduated from Jersey State in 1976 with a degree in physical education.

Johnson began his coaching career at Santa Ana (CA) Valley High School from 1976 to 1982. Johnson moved back East and returned to coach linebackers at his alma mater of Weequahic High School in Newark, N.J. for two years (1984-85). He went back to coach at Valley High in 1986 before moving up to Riverside College.

Johnson spent 25 years as a high school and college basketball official, including eight years at the Division I level. He spent four years as President of the Orange County (CA) Basketball Officials Association and two years as President of the California Basketball Officials Association.

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