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Virginia Tech football: 35 days til kickoff with a look back at Mike Johnson

Another superb Hokie linebacker

Former Hokie linebacker Mike Johnson
Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics

Today is July 27, 2019, which means we are officially just 35 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we profiled former linebacker-turned-safety, Aaron Rouse, who had a strong four-year career for the Hokies and is now a city councilman in his hometown of Virginia Beach.

Today, we look back at another outstanding former Hokie linebacker in No. 35, Mike Johnson.

Johnson played for the Hokies from 1980-83. He is another from DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md., a school that has produced several talented Hokies throughout the years. Johnson was recruited to Virginia Tech by Billy Hite.

A multi-year starter, Johnson put up huge numbers for the Hokies. Had he not played on the same defense as Bruce Smith, he likely would have received more national acclaim. That still didn’t stop him from becoming a two-time honorable-mention All-American.

For his career, Johnson finished with 429 tackles and led the Hokies in both 1982 and 1983 with 148 and 135, respectively. Those are two of the highest single-season marks in school history, still ranking inside the top 10. Johnson was an architecture major at Virginia Tech and also happened to be an Academic All-American, too.

After his terrific college career concluded, Johnson was selected in the first round of the 1984 supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns. However, it would be two years before Johnson played in the NFL as he spent two seasons playing for the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL.

Once he arrived in Cleveland, Johnson played eight seasons for the Browns. He made two Pro Bowls and earned one All-Pro nomination. He would then spend two seasons with the Detroit Lions in 1994 and 1995 before retiring from the game after a 12-year professional career. He started 125 games in his NFL career and finished with 14.5 sacks, 13 interceptions and two touchdowns. His 13 interceptions were the third most by a linebacker during that 10-year period in which Johnson played in the NFL.

Johnson was not only a terrific Hokie, but one of the better NFL Hokies of all-time, too. He was named into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame and was also named Virginia Tech’s ACC legend in 2011, although he never played in the ACC. Had it not been for Smith, more people would speak of Johnson today.

There have been so many terrific linebackers in Virginia Tech history and Johnson, along with Rick Razzano, are arguably the two best.

Hokies, do you have any memories of Mike Johnson’s time in Blacksburg?