Sprout's Hometown Hero: Tyler Johnson
As a junior at Highland, Johnson was named to the 2015 First-Team All-State as a tight end according to the Arizona Republic after a season that consisted of 20 caught passes for 462 yards with five touchdowns, as well as 202 rushing yards and six touchdowns on just 24 carries. Johnson was recruited as both a tight end and a defensive end. The tight end was a consensus four-star prospect and top-5 player in the state of Arizona among many major recruiting publications.
Johnson made the decision to switch from defensive end to linebacker, entering college. While Johnson played just 61 total snaps in the team's first 6 games of the year, he played on 394 snaps over the final seven games of the year, establishing himself as a starter in the second half of his redshirt freshman year in 2018. Johnson had sustained a shoulder injury at the time his success was getting recognized. Over the final seven weeks of the season, his 20 QB pressures were ninth among linebackers/ edge rushes in the Pac-12 Conference. In the final seven weeks he had four sacks, which were among the most in the Pac-12 outside. He was tied for second on the team with eight tackles for a loss of yards, six of which came in the final six games of the season, being the most on the team. Johnson showed his dominance in big games with a blocked punt in the fourth quarter of the game against No.15 Michigan State that ended in a victory, had a season-high seven tackles in the victory over No.16 Utah, and a season-best two tackles for a loss against Stanford and UCLA. After the season, Johnson finally had surgery to repair his shoulder.
Battling through injuries, Johnson managed to play in 10 games in his redshirt sophomore season. In an injury-lingering season, Johnson finished with 22 tackles, 5.5 of those for a loss, and 2.5 sacks. Johnson recovered a fumble in the final minutes to guarantee the victory over Florida State in the Sun Bowl.
As a redshirt junior, Johnson took full advantage of the unique season of 2020. Johnson was credited with just one missed tackle on the year on 173 total snaps. With 16 tackles, 7.5 of those for a loss, five sacks, two recovered fumbles and a deflected pass. For his showing against UCLA, Johnson was named Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week. Johnson finished the season being the seventh-highest graded edge defender in the Pac-12, the ninth highest graded edge defender in the conference, had the fifth-highest total pressures among edge defenders, and tenth among edge defenders in the league with a one-on-one win percentage of 18.3. Johnson received Player of the Weeks awards four times in four games played.
Through five games in the 2021 season, Johnson has gathered 11 solo tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble, and three quarterback hits. Johnson was a stand-out in the victory against Stanford with a season high in tackles of five, and a season high in sacks, with two. For his efforts against Stanford, Johnson was awarded Pac-12 Defensive- Lineman of the Week. In Johnson's career, so far, he has been selected 28 times as the Pac-12 Player of the Week, which is the fourth-most in the conference.