The Green Bay Packers signed a productive running back and a wide receiver whose dream was to play for his home-state team, and have added two quarterbacks on a tryout basis.
The Packers needed a quarterback for this weekend's rookie orientation camp, so they're bringing in two: Utah's Brian Johnson and Tulsa's David Johnson. Both will participate on a tryout basis.
Packer Report was the first to report that Utah's Johnson would join the Packers, and Scout.com's Adam Caplan learned of Tulsa's Johnson on Monday evening.
Also on Monday, the Packers released center Brennan Carvalho. An undrafted free agent last year from Portland State, he spent the season on injured reserve.
Brian Johnson was the Mountain West Conference's player of the year in leading the Utes to an undefeated season. In a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama, he completed 27-of-41 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns. The three-year starter threw 57 touchdown passes and 27 interceptions in his career, plus is a terrific athlete and runner with 848 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns for his career.
David Johnson played well in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game. As a senior, he completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 4,059 yards with 46 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He was a semifinalist for the Draddy Award, which is the academic version of the Heisman Trophy. He had three games of 400-plus passing yards and two games with six touchdown passes en route to an 11-3 season.
The jewel of the Packers' undrafted free-agent class is Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton. Sutton is a good get for the Packers, who got little third-down production from their running backs and surprised some observers by not drafting touted Liberty running back Rashad Jennings in the sixth or seventh rounds.
The 5-foot-8, 211-pound Sutton has size reminiscent of San Diego's Darren Sproles, and Sutton compared himself to a "little bowling ball" at the Scouting Combine in February. He rushed for 890 yards and caught 35 passes as a senior, when he was derailed by a broken wrist. The four-year starter rushed for almost 3,900 yards and had 159 receptions. His best season came as a freshman, when he rushed for 1,474 yards and 16 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2005.
"You can't measure the intangibles," Sutton said at the Combine when asked about Sproles. "He has great heart, he's very competitive. Those things don't show up on paper. He just does a great job of going out there and competing every single day and using his size for his advantage. He can hide behind those 6-foot-9, 320-pound guys and see the end zone from there."
Sutton, the leading rusher in Ohio prep history, showed his sense of humor at the Combine, recalling basketball games against Ohio State star back Chris Wells while they were 9 years old. The 5-foot-8 Sutton joked that Wells was about 6-foot-4 back then.
"That like LeBron James vs. Spud Webb. It's not even fair."
Also signed were receivers Kole Heckendorf of North Dakota State, Jamarko Simmons of Western Michigan, Andy Brodell of Iowa, JaRon Harris of South Dakota State and Patrick Williams of Colorado, as well as tight end Carson Butler of Michigan.
Simmons, who broke Greg Jennings' school record with 104 catches last season, is a big man at 6-foot-2, 231 pounds. Harris is the son of former Vikings draft pick Ron Harris but grew up a Packers fan to tease his mom. Click here for our predraft interview with Harris. Brodell was a productive punt returner, as well.
The 6-foot-2, 188-pound Heckendorf, a native of Mosinee, Wis., is the leading receiver in Bison history. He caught 41 passes for 744 yards and four touchdowns as a senior, running his career totals to 178 catches for 2,732 yards. He caught passes in 41 of 43 career games, and had eight catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns against Austin Peay and nine catches against Youngstown State in 2008.
"I couldn't have asked for a better story," he told Packer Report on Sunday night. "Small-town Wisconsin kid from a smaller college coming back home to get a chance with the Green Bay Packers. I'm just going to give it all I got."
Heckendorf said four or five teams were pursuing him.
"I've always wanted to be a Packer growing up as a little kid. It's a good fit for me and a good opportunity."
Signing on Monday were offensive tackles Andy Hartline of Central Michigan, a four-year starter, and Evan Dietrich-Smith of Idaho State. Hartline was according to agent Ken Sarnoff and the Journal Sentinel reported Dietrich-Smith.
Meanwhile, the University of Delaware says Ronald Talley signed with Green Bay. At 6-foot-4 and 282 pounds, he has ideal size to play defensive end.
Joining Johnson on a tryout basis are Wisconsin-River Falls center Scott Witte, New Mexico State defensive end Rhyan Anderson (6-4, 283; native of Oak Creek, Wis.) and Western Michigan tight end Branden Ledbetter.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.