Josh Johnson became the first University of San Diego football player to be selected in the NFL Draft when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked him in the fifth round in 2008. This Sunday, Oct. 4, the record-setting college quarterback will make his mark again when he makes his first-ever NFL start against the Washington Redskins.
The decision to start Johnson was announced by Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris at todayâ€™s press conference. Johnson, who has had limited playing time in preseason games each of the last two seasons, made his regular-season debut late in Sundayâ€™s 24-0 loss to the New York Giants. In relief of veteran Byron Leftwich, he played one fourth-quarter drive, completing four of 10 passes for 36 yards. He also had one 15-yard run.
Johnson was the Buccaneersâ€™ fourth-string quarterback entering training camp this summer behind Leftwich, Luke McNown and Josh Freeman. (The latter was drafted by the team in the first round this year.) McNown has since been traded and Johnson was recently promoted to the backup spot. Morris said Johnson understands what the move to starter means to the struggling Buccaneers, who are winless in three games this season.
â€œI know what Iâ€™m getting from Josh,â€ Morris said during the press conference. â€œHeâ€™s going to be prepared. Josh has an opportunity, a great one. Heâ€™s earned the right.â€ Morris particularly praised Johnsonâ€™s mobility and that he â€œprovides us with some more optionsâ€ on offense.
As USD’s starting quarterback, Johnson compiled a 30-4 record in three years (2005-2007) and led the team to three consecutive Pioneer Football League titles. He is the career leader in all major USD passing categories, completing 724 of 1,065 pass attempts for 9,699 yards and 113 touchdowns. He had 43 TD passes and only one interception his senior season, setting an NCAA career mark for passing efficiency with a 176.68 rating. Johnson was also a mobile and versatile quarterback, running for 1,864 yards (6.1 yards per carry average) and 19 touchdowns in his career.
â€” Ryan T. Blystone