It’s Running Backs Week at Testudo Times, as we continue looking through every Maryland football position group throughout the summer. After overviewing the position yesterday, it’s time to discuss the Terps’ feature back.
Ty Johnson, RB, No. 6
Weight: 205 pounds
Hometown: Cumberland, Maryland
High school: Fort Hill
Johnson was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2015; he tore up the local public high school circuit, but because there wasn’t as much FBS talent in the area, major-conference interest was scarce. He committed to Maryland shortly after receiving an offer.
His 7.1 yards per rush as a freshman were a bright spot in a dismal season, and he broke out as a sophomore, rushing for 1,004 yards on just 110 carries. Johnson was once again the Terps’ most productive back last fall, with 875 yards (6.4 per carry) and five touchdowns on the ground.
Johnson’s numbers correlated with Maryland wins in 2017.
His junior campaign started on fire, as he torched Texas and Towson for 132 and 124 yards, respectively; that second number came on just five carries and included two touchdowns. UCF shut him down, then he bounced back for 130 yards and the winning score at Minnesota. He never ran for 100 yards again all season, with his next-best total coming in Maryland’s only other win, a 91-yard performance against Indiana.
In the four wins, Johnson averaged 9.9 yards per carry. In the eight losses, he averaged 4.5.
The aggregate numbers all dipped from 2016, but it’s no coincidence that opposing defenses increasingly keyed in on Johnson after Maryland’s top two quarterbacks both went down. He wasn’t in open space as often as he had been, but when he had those chances, he was still plenty explosive. Just ask Ohio State’s kick return team (this is a role Johnson could also continue to hold in 2018, but it’s too early to say for sure).
It’s a packed group, but this is the leader.
Johnson said he seriously considered entering the NFL Draft, but he decided to return to College Park. He’s entering his third season as Maryland’s top running back, and this is his second year as the oldest member of the position group. It’s unclear how new offensive coordinator Matt Canada divides up carries or what roles he finds for the rest of the group, but nobody will have to worry about Johnson. He’ll be right at home in the backfield, waiting for a chance to turn on the jets.