10 - Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson
Height: 6-1
Weight: 225
Year: Sr.
Hometown: Tumwater, Wash.
High School: Tumwater HS '07
Position: LB
Experience: 3L*

*** Honors Candidate ***

Career: He has started all 30 games he has played as an Eagle – the most among returning defensive players -- with 260 career tackles to rank 10th in school history. A second team All-Big Sky Conference selection in 2010 and a preseason All-American in 2011, Johnson’s average of 8.7 tackles per game is fourth-best in school history. If he matches his career tackles per game mark in 2012, he will finish with 355 tackles in his career and move into third in school history behind Greg Belzer (399 from 1997-2000) and J.C. Sherritt (432 from 2007-10). Johnson’s twin brother, Matt Johnson, also started every game he played as an Eagle (45) and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 National Football League Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.

2012: Listed as a starter at weak-side outside linebacker on preseason depth chart. The approval of Johnson’s appeal to grant him a sixth year to complete his four years of eligibility was announced on Feb. 6, 2012, as the result of decisions made since the 2011 season by the Big Sky Conference and the NCAA. In his first five years in the program, the linebacker from Tumwater, Wash. (Tumwater HS ’08), had 19 games wiped out because of the same knee injury -- 12 in 2009 and the last seven as a senior co-captain in the 2011 season.

2011: The senior co-captain played the first four games with a chronic tear in his left patellar tendon and had surgery shortly after the announcement on Sept. 27, 2011, that his season had ended. It’s the same injury that required surgery to repair on June 30, 2009. However, Johnson missed the entire 2009 season after a blood clot developed in his leg following the surgery. Although Johnson played sparingly in his final game on Sept. 24 against Montana State and had only one tackle, through four games he was tied for the team lead in tackles with 30. He had 13 tackles versus Montana (9/17/11) to earn team defensive player of the week honors. College Football Performance Awards selected him as one of the top 41 returning linebackers in FCS in 2011. Earned preseason All-Big Sky Conference honors as selected by the league’s media and sports information directors, and was also a first team All-BSC selection by Phil Steele’s FCS College Football Preview.

2010: Started all 15 games and earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors after a blood clot in his leg sidelined him for the entire 2009 season. He helped the Eagle defense rank first nationally in interceptions (total of 26) and turnovers gained (47), and finish sixth nationally in red zone defense, as it allowed just 38 scores in 58 opponent trips inside the Eagle 20-yard line. Zach finished second on the team with 134 tackles (sixth in school history), and also had 3 1/2 sacks, five passes broken up, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Six times he had at least 10 tackles, as he ended the season with 15 against Delaware (1/7/11) in EWU’s 20-19 come-from-behind victory. He also had two sacks -- including one on the final set of downs in the game for the Blue Hens -- as EWU won the NCAA Division I title in Frisco, Texas. Earlier in the NCAA Championship Subdivision Playoffs, J.C. Sherritt forced a fumble at the goal-line that was recovered by Johnson to end a thrilling, 38-31 victory over North Dakota State (12/11/10) in the quarterfinals at Roos Field. EWU’s celebration was delayed, as suspense built for several minutes while the play was reviewed -- and eventually upheld -- by the replay official in the pressbox. That came after EWU rallied in the final seconds of regulation to tie the score with a 90-yard touchdown drive, then the Eagles scored on the first play of overtime to take their first lead since mid-way through the third quarter. Zach also had 12 tackles and pair of passes broken up in the win. He had a career-best 18 tackles (seventh-most in school history) in Eastern’s 34-21 victory over Southern Utah (11/13/10) in which he also had a sack and a pass broken up. Zach had 12 tackles and a pair of passes broken up in a win over Sacramento State (10/23/10), and had 13 tackles and an interception in a 35-28 victory over Northern Colorado (10/16/10). His performance against the Bears helped him earn team defensive player of the week. In a 21-14 win over Northern Arizona (10/9/10), Zach had 11 tackles and a pair of tackles for loss, and he helped make a stop on a fourth-and-12 play at the EWU 38-yard line with 3:37 to play to help preserve EWU’s victory. Zach also had a big game against Montana (9/18/10) in the debut of EWU’s red Sprinturf surface at Roos Field, finishing with 11 total tackles and a forced fumble on UM’s final kickoff return of the game.

2009: He did not play in 2009 after missing Eastern’s preseason practices and first four games because of a blood clot in his leg that was diagnosed following knee surgery. He underwent surgery to repair patellar tendons in both knees, then woke up on July 4, 2009, with a cramp that felt like he had a pulled muscle. The clot didn’t dissipate completely and it was announced on Sept. 30 that he would be lost for the season. He was on blood thinners and a mid-October return date was originally expected, but doctors and EWU athletic trainers determined that for precautionary reasons he should miss the entire season. Matt Johnson then wore EWU’s No. 10 jersey the remainder of the season in honor of his twin brother. Eastern also adopted Zach’s ritual of hitting the side of his helmet after big plays, a tradition the team has continued since then. Prior to the start of the season, Zach was selected by the media as a member of the 27-player preseason All-Big Sky Conference squad.

2008: Earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors. Started 10 games at strong-side inside linebacker and one at middle linebacker. He and his twin brother Matt combined for 179 tackles to rank 1-2 on the team, with Zach finishing with 96 and a team-high seven passes broken up, and Matt closing the year with 83 tackles and a team-leading four interceptions. Zach, whose 96 tackles ranks 20th in school history, was third in the Big Sky (8.7 per game) and 47th nationally. He was the team’s defensive player of the week against Northern Colorado (11/8/08) after he had a season-high 15 tackles and an interception in a game in which his brother added 10 tackles. A week later against Northern Arizona (11/15/08) he was chosen as the team’s special teams player of the week and subsequently was one of three team co-captains the following week versus Weber State (11/22/08). He finished second on the team with eight tackles and three passes broken up in his collegiate debut against Texas Tech (8/30/08). In the same game, Matt had a team-high 10 tackles and an interception he returned 37 yards in the 49-24 loss to the 12th-ranked Red Raiders. He helped Eastern finish an impressive 11th in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in rushing defense (93.5), as well as fifth in sacks (3.09 per game) and ninth nationally in tackles for loss (7.9 per game).

2007: Redshirted. Along with his brother Matt, he was selected as EWU’s Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year. He was defensive scout team player of the week twice.

HS: Graduated from Tumwater HS in 2007. Earned first team 2A All-State honors at running back and honorable mention at defensive back from the Associated Press. In addition, WashingtonPreps.com selected him to its 2A All-State first team at running back and defensive back. Selected to play in the 2A/1A/2B/1B All-State Game. He was also named by the Seattle Times as a “White Chip” selection as one of the top 100 prospects in the state of Washington. He earned MVP honors as a member of The Olympian All-Area football team at running back. He was also a member of the Tacoma News Tribune All-Area squad as a defensive back. He was the MVP of the 2A Evergreen League after rushing for a school-record 1,918 yards. He also broke school records with 2,320 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns. On defense, he had more than 50 tackles with two interceptions, three forced fumbles and two sacks. After a season-opening loss, Tumwater won 11-straight games to advance to the semifinals of the State 2A Playoffs and finish the season 11-2. Tumwater defeated Colville 28-25 in the quarterfinals, then lost to eventual champion Lynden 20-10 in the semifinals. He scored twice, including an 82-yard reception, in the Colville game. His 1-yard run with two minutes left helped seal the victory. He finished his senior season as his team’s offensive player of the year, captain and most inspirational, sharing the latter two awards with his brother Matt. Was listed among the “Seniors to Watch” on Ron Siegel’s 2006 preseason All-State team. He earned first team All-Pac 9 League honors as a junior and was a second team pick as a sophomore. As a junior, he had more than 50 tackles with four forced fumbles, three sacks, more than 600 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Also played basketball and baseball at Tumwater. As a senior in baseball, he was selected to the All-Area team by The Olympian after hitting .390 with eight home runs and 26 RBI. He led his team to a district title as he and his brother Matt both had two-run home runs in an 11-10 victory over Centralia in the championship game. Both were first team All-Evergreen Conference selections as outfielders as Tumwater finished 16-6 after advancing to the first round of the State 2A Tournament. His Eagle teammate and twin brother Matt also attended Timberline, as well as EWU newcomer Zach Wimberly (’12).

Personal: Marketing major. Born 7/22/89 in Olympia, Wash. Zach is the twin of his former EWU teammate Matt Johnson. Like Zach, Matt had his senior season in 2011 limited to seven games because of a painful biceps tendon injury he played with since the second game of the season. At the time his season ended, Matt was the team’s second-leading tackler with 52. He finished his career just one interception away from the school record of 18 set by Mike Richter from 1971-75. Johnson is tied with former NFL 10-year veteran Kurt Schulz (EWU letter winner 1988-91) and long-time Canadian Football League standout Jackie Kellogg (1990-93), who both have 17 each. Johnson was also only nine interception return yards from the record of 219 held by Schulz, and his six career forced fumbles tied for the school record along with Renard Williams (2008-11), J.C. Sherritt (2007-10) and Chris Scott (1994-97). Matt had 341 tackles in his career to move into fifth all-time at Eastern – just five from moving into fourth (Derek Strey had 346 from 1994-97) and only six from third (Jason Marsh had 347 from 1991-93). Johnson had five interceptions in 2010 to help Eastern lead the FCS with 26. During Eastern’s season-ending 11-game winning streak in the 2010 season, Zach and Matt combined for 189 tackles, five interceptions and 11 passes broken up. In the NCAA Division I Championship game, Zach Johnson had 15 tackles with a pair of sacks, and Matt Johnson added nine tackles and a pass broken up. They also enjoyed an 11-game winning streak in high school as well, but that ended in the semifinals of the State 2A Playoffs in 2006 when Tumwater lost to Lynden 20-10. Interestingly, the first start for both Matt and Zach came on Aug. 30, 2008, when Eastern played at Texas Tech University and head coach Mike Leach. The Red Raiders came away with a 49-24 victory, piling up 536 of its 639 yards of offense through the air. Leach is the new head coach at Washington State University – EWU’s opponent on Sept. 8 in Pullman, Wash.

 

Year

GP

TT

Hi

S

TL-Yds

FF-FR

PBU

I-Yds

2008

11

96

15

2

11-44

0-0

7

1-0

2010

15

134

18

3.5

18-48

1-2

5

2-5

2011

4

30

13

1

3-12

0-0

0

0-0

Totals

30

260

18

6.5

32-104

1-2

12

3-5

 

Top Tackling Performances

18 - Southern Utah - 11/13/10

15 - Delaware - 1/7/11

15 - Northern Colorado - 11/8/08

13 – Montana – 9/17/11

13 - Northern Colorado - 10/16/10

13 - Northern Arizona - 11/15/08

12 - North Dakota St. - 12/11/10

12 - Sacramento State - 10/23/10

12 - Portland State - 10/4/08

11 - Northern Arizona - 10/9/10

10 - Weber State - 10/2/10

10 - Montana - 9/18/10

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