This college football season there has been a lot of talk of some very good running backs. We have all heard the names Knowshon Moreno (Georgia) or Javon Ringer (Michigan State) or Shonn Greene (Iowa). But have you heard of Gartrell Johnson? Probably not. Johnson has quietly had a terrific season at Colorado State and before his performance at the New Mexico Bowl, I didn’t know who he was either. After his 285 yards rushing outing (with 2 touchdowns and 90 more yards receiving), I began to wonder. Is Gartrell Johnson a human or cyborg? a man or a beast? My guess is somewhere inbetween.
One thing is for certain: NFL teams better take a close look at this guy in next year’s draft. This 5th year senior out of Miami Springs, Florida is built like a truck. Weighing 225 pounds and 6 feet tall, he is low to the ground and a punishing runner. Johnson’s long dreads cover his head like ivy on a building, making him look like Steven Jackson. Why you haven’t heard of him is simple: he hasn’t made a lot of noise. During his first two years at CSU he rushed for a total of 38 yards. 2006 was still less than mediocre with 305 yards rushing. In 2007, he began coming into his own, when he ran for 957 yards and 6 touchdowns. But it was in 2008 Johnson hit his stride.
Johnson has a quick, decisive first cut and the power to break multiple tackles. He doesn’t have home-run caliber speed but, when he gets going, its hard to bring him down. Think of Johnson as a bull in football pads. In 2008, he galloped for 1191 yards and 10 touchdowns, nothing spectacular but he didn’t get the ball as much as he should have. Colorado State went 7-6 this year. In 5 of the wins, Johnson had more than 20 carries. In all 6 losses, he carries the ball 20 times or less. He had 5 100-yard games and finished the season with 4 straight games with a touchdown. The cherry on top of a great season was a near record setting performance at the New Mexico Bowl. Johnson ripped Fresno State for 285 yards rushing, 90 yards receiving, and 2 touchdowns. He only had 27 carries (10.7 yard average rushing) and 5 receptions (18.0 yard average reception.) At the end of the day, Johnson stood second all-time in bowl game history for rushing yards in a game.
The bigger question? Is Johnson this bowl season’s Tony Temple? Or the NFL’s next star? Is he a one-game hero? Or the next fantasy football stud? There is no way of knowing that answer. Johnson could make a great goal-line back and has the toughness to carry the load for a team. If I was an NFL team, however, I would be circling this guy on my board and looking for him early in the second day of the draft. After all, every one wants a cyborg on their team.
all information found at espn.com