The Detroit Lions made Ty Johnson the third Maryland football player to hear his name called during the NFL Draft on Saturday afternoon, taking the running back in the sixth round with the 186th overall pick.
The Cumberland native has successfully worked his way from western Maryland to Maryland’s record books, and now to an NFL draft pick. He joins first-rounder Darnell Savage Jr. and fifth-rounder Byron Cowart in the next class of Terps to take their talents to the pros.
Johnson left College Park third in program history with 4,196 career all-purpose yards. He made his mark as a home-run hitting back and a do-it-all player on special teams in college. He broke Maryland’s single-season yards per carry record as a sophomore after totaling 1,004 rushing yards on 9.1 yards per carry. He added 875 yards as a junior and averaged 7.7 yards per carry on 66 attempts for 506 yards as a senior, sharing an extremely talented backfield and missing the final two games with a calf strain.
In addition to his production out of the backfield, Johnson played all over the field on kickoff and punt returns, with 1,243 career return yards (1194 on kicks, 49 yards on punts) and six tackles, including five his senior year. He took two kicks to the house over his last two seasons, with a 100-yard return against Ohio State in 2017 and a 98-yard score against Michigan last season.
Despite his college production and reputation as a speedster, Johnson was not given a combine invite. His pro day 40-yard dash was unofficially clocked as low as 4.26, but likely settled somewhere between 4.3 and 4.4. No running backs who earned a combine invite ran under a 4.4.
Johnson will get a shot to work his way up at the next level. The Lions currently have six other running backs on the roster—including CJ Anderson, Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick—but Johnson has shown a willingness to earn his money on special teams and a work ethic that should turn this selection into the beginning of a solid professional career.