Austin Johnson is joining Christian Hackenberg in the 2016 NFL Draft. Penn State's monstrous defensive tackle announced today that he will forgo his redshirt senior year in Happy Valley and head to the NFL. Johnson told reporters of his decision after Penn State fell to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
Johnson makes announcement. pic.twitter.com/NTBs7hjf2A— Nate Bauer (@NateBauerBWI) January 2, 2016
Johnson wasn't nearly as highly regarded of a prospect as Hackenberg, but the former three-star defensive lineman out of New Jersey has turned into one of the most feared interior lineman in the nation. He came to Penn State as a member of the 2012 recruiting class over schools like Boston College, Rutgers, and Syracuse, and spent his first year in State College on the sidelines redshirting.
From the get go, Johnson made an impact along Penn State's defensive line. He had 27 tackles, three tackles for loss, and a sack as a redshirt freshman. His role expanded in 2014, as did his numbers: 49 tackles, six tackles for loss, and a sack. Johnson earned a second/third-team All-Big Ten selection in 2015 with an unreal 70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 5.5 stats. Still, numbers don't tell the whole story, as Johnson was able to impact games and make life easier for the rest of the defense due to his ability to eat up offensive linemen.
Wherever he lands, we'd like to wish Johnson the best of luck in the NFL. We'd also like to wish the best of luck to the offensive linemen who have to block him. Trust us, you're gonna need it.