Tyrell Johnson NFL Bio

Who is Tyrell Johnson? The more you learn, the more you might see what the Vikings saw in the Arkansas State safety.

MARCELLUS TYRELL JOHNSON
Strong/Free Safety
Arkansas State University Indians
5:11.7-207
Rison, Arkansas
Rison High School

OVERVIEW

Even the most avid of college football fans might not have heard of Marcellus Tyrell Johnson, but ask 46 offensive coordinators who have had to face the ASU defense over the last four years and they sound like a choir when they say in unison – Johnson is the best defensive player in the Sun Belt Conference.

With a perfect blend of size, strength, speed and field smarts, Johnson might not have garnered much media attention, but his numbers truly stand out against any other safety in the game. He holds the Sun Belt Conference career-records for most tackles (363) and most interception return yards (309), as he also established league records for most yards gained on interception returns in a season (142 in 2007) and most tackles in a game (25 vs. North Texas, 2005).

Johnson's 92-yard interception return vs. Florida International in 2005 is the second-longest run back in Sun Belt Conference annals and rank fourth in school history. His 28 passes defended (13 interceptions, 15 break-ups) rank second on the Sun Belt all-time record list, while his thirteen pass thefts rank third.

At Rison High School, Johnson earned All-State and All-Conference honors in 2002, despite being hampered all season by a nagging high ankle sprain. He helped the team to a perfect record as they captured the Class 8AA title, adding All-District accolades in each of his final three seasons. He was a two-time All-Southeast Arkansas choice and a Marine Scholar. He rushed for 1,085 yards (7.7 avg) and 16 touchdowns, while returned 22 punts for 198 yards as a senior.

Competing as a defensive back and running back, Johnson had 353 career rushes for 2,725 yards (7.72 avg), including 49 touchdowns. He caught six passes for 120 yards and had 53 punt returns for 460 yards. He added 18 kickoff returns for 339 yards and one score, had three interceptions (returned one for score), recorded 20 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered two others. He also lettered in basketball and participated in track and field for three seasons. He started on Rison's 2000 Class AA state championship hoops team.

Johnson enrolled at Arkansas State in 2003, spending the season adjusting to playing safety on the scout team. He took over free safety chores in 2004, earning Freshman All-American and second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors. He finished third on the team with 94 tackles (61 solos), as he caused a fumble and recovered another that he advanced for a touchdown. He picked off four passes and broke up five others.

As a sophomore, Johnson shifted to strong safety, picking up All-Sun Belt Conference first-team recognition, as he was twice named the league's Player of the Week. He led the team with 112 tackles (83 solos), causing and recovering one fumble. He deflected two passes and had a pair of interceptions, including a 92-yarder, while averaging 17.0 yards on three kickoff returns.

In 2006, Johnson again led the team with 63 tackles (43 solos), earning first-team All-Sun Belt Conference accolades. He picked off a pass, knocked down four others and had a stop behind the line of scrimmage.

Johnson was a third-team All-American, first-team All-Sun Belt Conference and league Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. He placed fourth on the squad with 94 tackles (58 solos), including 4.5 stops for losses and two forced fumbles. He had four pass break-ups and six interceptions, returning one for a touchdown from his strong safety position.

In 46 games at Arkansas State, all starts, Johnson registered 363 tackles (245 solos) with 6.5 stops for losses of 31 yards. He caused four fumbles and recovered two others, returning one 55 yards for a touchdown. He broke up fifteen passes and intercepted thirteen others for 309 yards in returns (23.77 avg) and a score. He gained 51 yards on three kickoff returns (17.0 avg), 2 yards on two carries, 3 yards on a punt return and 3 yards on a reception.

CAREER NOTES

Holds the Sun Belt Conference career-record with 363 tackles, topping the previous mark of 300 by Steve Tookes of Arkansas State (2001-04)…His 363 tackles also rank sixth in school annals behind Jerry Muckensturm (493, 1972-75), Bill Bergey (436, 1965-68), Ron Smith (422, 1976-79), Mike Malham (370, 1972-75) and Mike Morris (366, 1979-82)…Holds the Sun Belt all-time record with 309 yards gained on interception returns, topping the previous mark of 236 yards by Koby McKinnon of Arkansas State (2004-2007)…Only Terry Whiting (374, 1968-71) had more yards via interception returns in school history…His 142 yards gained on interception returns in 2007 topped the previous Sun Belt season-record of 138 yards by Chaz Williams of Louisiana-Monroe in 2005…Johnson's thirteen pass thefts rank third in league annals, surpassed by Chris Harris of Louisiana-Monroe (14, 2001-04) and Johnathan Burke of Arkansas State (14, 2003-04)…His 28 passes defended (13 interceptions, 15 deflections) rank second in conference history behind Jonas Buckles of North Texas (30, 18 interceptions, 12 break-ups, 2001-04)…Holds the Sun Belt game record with 25 tackles vs. North Texas in 2005…Only Bill Bergey (33 vs. Eastern Michigan in 1968( had more tackles in a game in ASU history…His 92-yard interception return vs. Florida International in 2005 is the second-longest run back in Sun Belt annals, topped by Maurice Holman of North Texas (99 vs. Middle Tennessee, 9-10-2005).

2007 SEASON

All-American third-team selection by The NFL Draft Report…All-Sun Belt Conference first-team choice and named the league's Defensive Player of the Year…Started all twelve games at strong safety, ranking fourth on the team with 94 tackles (58 solos), including 4.5 stops for losses of 18 yards…Caused two fumbles and deflected four passes…Had six interceptions, ranking tied for 12th in the nation…Gained a Sun Belt season-record 142 yards with a touchdown on his interception returns…Also carried once for a 1-yard loss in the Middle Tennessee State clash…Had at least ten tackles in each of the Texas, Troy and North Texas contests…Leader of a strong secondary that ranked 19th nationally and second in the conference, allowing just 197.2 yards passing per game.

2007 GAME ANALYSIS

Texas…Johnson opened the season in explosive fashion, registering fourteen tackles (10 solos), including one that stopped tailback Jamaal Charles for a 6-yard loss at the ASU 42 on a rushing attempt at the start of the second quarter…On the Longhorns' next drive, he intercepted a Colt McCoy pass at the ASU 17 for a 4-yard return.

Southern Methodist…Added four tackles (3 solos) and deflected a Justin Willis third-&-2 pass at the SMU 49, forcing the Mustangs to punt at the start of the second quarter.

Tennessee…Delivered eight tackles (7 solos), as he caused a fumble and intercepted a pass…Picked off an Erik Ainge third-&-2 pass at the ASU 46, returning it 54 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter…On the Vols' next series, he knocked down an Ainge third-&-4 pass intended for Austin Rogers, forcing UT to punt…On Tennessee's next series, he stripped the ball from Josh Briscoe at the ASU 25 after a 17-yard catch, but the Vols recovered it.

Memphis…Had seven tackles (3 solos).

Louisiana-Lafayette…Johnson had three third-down stops among his five tackles.

Middle Tennessee State…The strong safety collected six solo tackles with a stop for a 7-yard loss, a forced fumble and an interception…He picked off a third-&-13 Dwight Dasher pass at the MT 40 for a 7-yard return early in the first quarter

Troy…Produced four third-down tackles among his ten hits.

Florida International…Credited with seven tackles (6 assists).

Florida Atlantic…Made nine tackles (4 solos) with 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and an interception…Leveled B.J. Manley for a 2-yard loss on a mid third quarter rushing attempt…Picked off a third-&-20 Rusty Smith pass at the FAU 42 for a 37-yard return at the start of the fourth quarter, setting up a 4-yard touchdown run by ASU's Reggie Arnold.

North Texas…Johnson added twelve tackles (7 solos) with a stop behind the line of scrimmage and an interception…On the game's second play from scrimmage, he took down Casey Fitzgerald for a 2-yard loss on a screen pass…Early in the second quarter, he picked off a Giovanni Vizza pass at the ASU 31.

Southern Mississippi…Closed out his career with nine tackles (8 solos), as he picked off a third-&-5 Jeremy Young pass at the ASU 49, returning it 39 yards before fumbling it, but ASU recovered the ball at the USM 11 and then booted a 24-yard field goal.

2006 SEASON

All-Sun Belt Conference first-team selection…Started all eleven games he played in at strong safety…Managed to lead the team with 64 tackles (43 solos), including one stop for a 10-yard loss…Had one interception and four pass deflections…Also gained 3 yards on a fake punt in the Middle Tennessee State game.

2006 GAME ANALYSIS

Opened the season with nine tackles (6 solos) vs. Army…Added five hits (3 solos) vs. Oklahoma State…Registered three hits in each of the Southern Methodist and Florida International clashes, as he also picked off a pass vs. FIU…Posted eight tackles and broke up two passes in the North Texas game…Totaled six tackles (3 solos) and a pass break-up vs. Florida Atlantic…Broke up a pass and delivered five tackles (4 solos), including one for a 10-yard loss vs. Auburn…Registered nine solo tackles vs. Troy and closed out the year with ten tackles (8 solos) in the Louisiana-Lafayette clash.

2005 SEASON

All-Sun Belt Conference first-team selection, earning league Player of the Week honors vs. North Texas and Florida International…Moved to strong safety, starting all twelve games, as he led the team with a career-high 112 tackles (83 solos), including one for a 3-yard loss… Caused and recovered a fumble…Had two interceptions for 112 yards in returns and broke up two other throws…Returned three kickoffs for 51 yards (17.0 avg).

2005 GAME ANALYSIS

Started the year off with a 20-yard interception return, adding twelve tackles (6 solos), as he also caused a fumble vs. Missouri…Returned an interception 92 yards, posted five tackles and gained 33 yards on two kickoff returns vs. Florida International…Was in on eight solo tackles vs. Louisiana-Monroe and delivered twelve hits (9 solos) in the Louisiana-Lafayette contest…Produced nine hits (7 solos) and a pass break-up vs. vs. Army…Set a Sun Belt Conference game-record with 25 tackles (20 solos) in a 31-24 decision over North Texas…Finished the year with nine tackles (8 solos) in the Southern Mississippi game.

2004 SEASON

Freshman All-American selection by College Sports Report, adding second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors…Started all eleven games at free safety, ranking third on the squad with 94 tackles (61 solos)…Caused a fumble and recovered another for a 55-yard touchdown return…Picked off four passes for 55 yards and deflected five other throws… Returned a punt 3 yards and had a 3-yard reception.

2004 GAME HIGHLIGHTS

Returned a fumble 55 yards for a score vs. Idaho…Registered fifteen tackles vs. North Texas…Picked off a pair of passes for 18 yards in returns vs. Utah State…Had a 37-yard interception return vs. Mississippi…Totaled nine tackles with two pass deflections and an interception vs. Memphis.

2003 SEASON

Redshirted and participated on the scout team.

CAMPUS AGILITY TESTS

4.45 in the 40-yard dash…365-pound bench press…520-pound squat…33.5-inch vertical jump…10'3" broad jump…32 5/8-inch arm length…9 5/8-inch hands.

COMBINE AGILITY TESTS

4.41 in the 40-yard dash…1.49 10-yard dash…2.52 20-yard dash…32-inch vertical jump… 10'7" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times.

HIGH SCHOOL

Attended Rison (Ark.) High School, earning All-State and All-Conference honors in 2002…Helped the team to a perfect record as they captured the Class 8AA title, adding All-District accolades in each of his final three seasons…Two-time All-Southeast Arkansas choice and a Marine Scholar…Rushed for 1,085 yards (7.7 avg) and 16 touchdowns, while returned 22 punts for 198 yards as a senior…Competing as a defensive back and running back, Johnson had 353 career rushes for 2,725 yards (7.72 avg), including 49 touchdowns…Caught six passes for 120 yards and had 53 punt returns for 460 yards…Added 18 kickoff returns for 339 yards and one score, had three interceptions (returned one for score), recorded 20 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered two others…Also lettered in basketball and participated in track and field for three seasons…Started on Rison's 2000 Class AA state championship hoops team.

PERSONAL

Management Information Systems major…Involved in various community charity events, Johnson was one of several players who visited Women's and Children's Hospital during New Orleans Bowl week…Son of Patricia and Travis Bell…His mother was a sprinter at the University of Arkansas…Born Marcellous Tyrell Johnson on 5/19/85…Resides in Rison, Arkansas.




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