Share this story...
Latest News

Former Utah S Robert Johnson Says Utes’ DB Success Started With Eric Weddle

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Since 2007, Utah football has had 14 defensive backs selected in the NFL Draft. Former Utah safety Robert Johnson believes that the Utes’ success with defensive backs started with All-American Eric Weddle.

Johnson had a great career at Utah from 2007-09 where he was an All-Mountain West performer and a key member of the 2009 Sugar Bowl Champion team that went undefeated and knocked off Alabama in the bowl game.

In the 2010 NFL Draft, Johnson was selected in the fifth round by the Tennessee Titans.

With all of the success in the defensive secondary for Utah and sending players to the NFL, Johnson gives a lot of credit to Eric Weddle.

“I will go all the way back to Eric Weddle,” Johnson told Jeremiah Jensen on SportsBeat. “Eric Weddle opened up all of the doors for a lot of the University of Utah players to be looked at. The system that we run is an NFL caliber system. You have people that are experienced like Coach (Morgan) Scalley. You also have Coach (Sharrieff) Shah who is business savy too, he definitely understands the ins and outs of the defense. Then you have coach (Kyle) Whittingham that is letting the defense do what they need to do. This defense played really well against the Pac-12 talent this year.”

Utah Secondary Players Getting Drafted

During the 2020 NFL Draft, the first Utah player selected was Jaylon Johnson in the second round to the Chicago Bears. Robert Johnson thinks he will fit in perfectly with the Bears.

“That dude is amazing,” Johnson said. I remember talking to him last year before the start of the season and I was telling him that he had to stay healthy and just ball out. They are starting to change these corners. He has the height, length, can run pretty fast and a good knack for the ball. He is a special player and is going to fit in perfectly with the Chicago Bears defense.”

Johnson was really happy and proud to see both safeties in Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon getting drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft.

“Seeing two safeties drafted this year, I am very proud of coach Whitt, coach Scalley and those boys,” Johnson said.

Those 13 defensive backs that were taken in the NFL Draft since 2007 includes Eric Weddle, Sean Smith, Brice McCain, R.J. Stanford. Also, Robert Johnson, Brandon Burton, Keith McGill, Eric Rowe, Marcus Williams, Brian Allen, Marquise Blair, Jaylon Johnson, Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon.

Professional Growth Mentor

Johnson is now working as a professional growth mentor and is helping student-athletes find employment after sports and is seeing the athletes face challenges when making the transition. That is something that he had to go through after his time in the NFL.

“I use myself as a prime example,” Johnson said. “I was trying to identify myself. When sports was over,  it was a tough situation. I was blessed and lucky to make it to the NFL. I played all four years and got my pension but when sports is over, life continues. You have to be prepared for it. I try to guide them the best way that I can.”

Johnson gave props to where he is today to the person that recruited him in high school. That is former Utah defensive coordinator and current BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake.

“I go back to coach (Kalani) Sitake, he came to Los Angeles and seen a kid that he had seen the world in and that gave me the opportunities and I trust him. He helped me get to where I am at right now. That’s my way of giving back to the whole state is talking to all of the athletes and giving them a heads up that sports ends and the career starts.”

If athletes are interested in getting advice from Robert Johnson, he said to reach out on his LinkedIn page.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

Top Stories