Who is UW Huskies’ Dillon Johnson? Huard on RB’s breakout game
Nov 6, 2023, 2:20 PM
(Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The No. 5 UW Huskies outdueled USC 52-42 in what developed into a thrilling quarterback display Saturday night, totaling nearly 600 passing yards and five touchdowns between two potential first-round NFL Draft prospects: USC’s Caleb Williams and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.
UW’s real hero was in the backfield, though, with junior running back Dillon Johnson rushing for 256 yards on nearly 10 yards per carry, scoring four touchdowns in the process. It was the first time Johnson rushed for more than 100 yards in any game in his four seasons of college football.
“To put on a show the way he did, that is one of those nights that young man, his family, his son – he’s got a young son that was documented throughout the course of the game, as well – that is one of those nights you will remember for the rest of your life,” Seattle Sports’ Brock Huard said on Monday’s edition of Brock and Salk.
Johnson was originally a dual-threat quarterback in high school for St. Joseph in Greenville, Miss. He started his college career at Mississippi State, where he logged 1,198 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. The fourth-ranked running back and No. 60 overall prospect in the 2023 transfer cycle heading into this season, and since transferring to UW for the 2023 season, he has recorded 686 yards and 10 touchdowns.
More than a third of Johnson’s rushing yards this year came in Saturday’s win, a performance that earned him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors on Monday.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) November 6, 2023
Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk asked the question that many others around the country probably did on Saturday night.
“Who is he?”
Luckily, Salk’s co-host is the perfect person to answer that question. Not only is Huard a UW Huskies legend, but the former quarterback now is now a college football analyst who calls games on FOX.
“He was a dual-threat guy in small town Mississippi,” Huard answered. “Went to Mississippi State and played for Mike Leach there and was largely a pass-catching running back. I think we talked about him even before the season like, ‘Man, look at these numbers – 50 receptions in Leach’s system.’ Leach views that as the run game, check downs and him getting out in routes, so he’s a super, super capable pass catcher.”
It wasn’t Johnson’s abilities in the passing game that stood out Saturday, though, as he had the fifth-biggest rushing performance in Washington history. It was both the first 200-yard game and four-TD game from a running back since 2017 for the program.
From August: With UW Huskies’ Cam Davis out, watch Dillon Johnson
Huard compared Johnson’s day to one he was on the field for himself: Corey Dillon’s memorable game against San Jose State in 1996 where he ran for 222 yards – all in the first quarter. He was famously allowed to rest for the remainder of the game, with the Huskies ahead 36-0 and Dillon having already set the NCAA records for most rushing yards and total yards in a single quarter.
“I watched Corey Dillon. I’m not even exaggerating, if Corey Dillon would have been in for four quarters against San Jose State in the storm in November when we played them, he could have run for 500 yards,” Huard recalled. “They had no answer. I think he had 280 first quarter yards, 90 of them on a screen pass from me and the other 180 on the ground (editor’s note: the official tally was 222 rushing yards and 83 receiving yards). It was man against boys. And Saturday in the Coliseum, those USC guys trying to tackle (Johnson), could not get to him. A lot of green grass. What a night special night for that young man.”
Johnson and the No. 5 UW Huskies take their perfect 9-0 record into another big game against a ranked opponent, No. 13 Utah, at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation about UW Huskies RB Dillon Johnson in the third question of Blue 88, the final segment in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.
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