AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the storied history of Texas football, only one player has earned the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker. That player, Derrick Johnson, is getting some well-deserved recognition for his standout time as a Longhorn.
After playing in every game over his four-year career in Austin and racking up a list of accolades that could fill a textbook, Johnson has been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023.
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“You look back and you say, ‘Wow’,” said Johnson about his illustrious career. “You look at what you accomplished. I’m very favored and blessed. When I got the call I was elected to the college football hall of fame, it was a sigh of relief like, wow, this is really happening.”
Johnson is still very involved with the Texas program including being the voice and face of the Longhorn football intro video. Still, the Waco native is often asked why he is not pursuing a role as a coach. Six kids at home keep Johnson plenty busy.
“They’re more skill positions,” Johnson said with a smile about if his kids play his position of linebacker in football. “So I got to switch my mindset a little bit, like, man they are more offensive.”
Being a dedicated parent is something ‘DJ’ learned from his inspiration, his mother. She was a teacher back in Waco and for Johnson at UT.
“I wasn’t managing my time right,” said Johnson about some academic struggles early as a college student. “She called me and laid it on me like, ‘Hey listen, I know you’re a big-time football player, but school comes first. Education is very important.'”
The Longhorn great said after that, his report cards were filled with As and Bs. Johnson’s mother is the inspiration for his foundation, Defend the Dream.
Defend the Dream, as described on their website, “was founded in 2012 with the mission to provide low-income and inner-city young people with opportunities and resources to reach their full potential.”
“It’s a shallow deal but I’m talking about nice paint on the wall, fat heads, beanbags and colorful things in there,” said Johnson about making libraries a desirable place. “The biggest thing is being able to have them have age-appropriate books in their hands.”