MOBILE, Ala. – East Carolina Hall of Fame running back Chris Johnson is one of five individuals who will be inducted into the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame as part of the 2023 class the organization announced Thursday morning.
Johnson, who played 10 seasons in the National Football League, joins current Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson, former Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews, former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook and former Baltimore Ravens offensive guard Marshal Yanda. Induction for the 2023 will take place on June 25 at the Grand Hotel Golf Club & Spa in Point Clear, Ala.
“It was such a great honor to get invited to the Senior Bowl and represent East Carolina,” Johnson told the Senior Bowl. “It felt good to know the Senior Bowl thought I belonged there and I was excited to compete against all the top players in the country. It was an experience that I’ll never forget.”
A First-Team All-America selection by Pro Football Weekly and a two-time First-Team All-Conference USA performer, Johnson completed his four-year Pirate career with a school-record 6,993 all-purpose yards as the program’s top running back and kickoff returner. He authored a total of 18 single-game, single-season and career standards at the conclusion of his senior campaign, leaving East Carolina as the Pirates’ all-time leader in kickoff return yardage (2,715), touchdowns (44), receptions and reception yards (125-1,296) by a running back.
Johnson turned in his finest season as a senior in 2007, topping all Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) players to capture the national statistical championship in all-purpose yards (227.7 ypg) while also standing among the Top 25 in scoring (4th/11.08 ppg), kickoff return average (18th/28.03 ypr) and rushing (24th/109.46 ypg). In addition to representing a career-best, his 1,423 ground yards marked the highest individual total at ECU since 2001 while his 24 touchdowns and 144 points served as a school single-season record.
Johnson matched or bettered the East Carolina single-game record for all-purpose yards on three occasions when he racked up 372 vs. UCF, 408 vs. Memphis and 408 vs. Boise State, which also rated as the second and third-highest all-purpose yard FBS performances in 2007. He ran for a personal-best 301 yards against the Tigers at the Liberty Bowl on Nov. 3 before following with a Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl-record 223-yard ground effort vs. the Broncos on Dec. 23, which helped him set an all-time single NCAA Bowl record for all-purpose yards.
In all, Johnson posted nine 100-yard rushing and two 100-yard receiving games during his career, which were accomplished in 36 starts spanning 47 total contests. He led the Pirates in rushing as a freshman, sophomore and senior, and closed out his career ranking third on the school’s all-time rushing charts (2,982) and sixth on the receptions list (125).
The 2007 Conference USA Media Special Teams Player-of-the-Year also left an impression on the league’s record books, capturing career marks in kickoff return yardage and kickoff returns (115).
In April of 2008, Johnson was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the first round (24th overall) where he would go on to play in 130 career games with 111 starts across three organizations (Titans/2008-13; New York Jets/2014; Arizona Cardinals/2015-17). A three-time Pro Bowl selection and runner-up in AP Rookie of the Year voting, he was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2009 setting the all-time record with 2,509 total yards from scrimmage while leading the league in rushing with 2,006 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Johnson also had 50 catches for 503 yards and two receiving scores. He became just the eighth player in NFL history with over 2,000 rushing yards in a season, which earned him the nickname “CJ2K”.