Player Spotlight: David Johnson’s Ascension
David Johnson was born in Memphis, TN on December 16th, 1991. He is one of six kids, including being a triplet with his sisters Darnecia and Danielle. It was a few years later, in 5th grade, when DJ began imitating Emmitt Smith, the eventual NFLs career leading rusher. He went to Clinton High School in Iowa before attending the University of Northern Iowa for a full 4 years. There, David began etching his own name into the game of football on a national level. He increased his rushing yards and total yards each year in school, eventually gaining 1,553 rushing yards and 536 receiving his senior year in 2014, with 19 total TDs to boot (For the record, he also completed both of his passing attempts while playing at UNI for 43 total yards and 1 TD). During his 2014 senior campaign, David also recorded 438 return yards and 1 TD via a 98-yard kick return.
A few months later the Arizona Cardinals drafted David Johnson, the 6’1 224lb running back 86th overall (22nd in the 3rd round). 6 runners had been taken before the Cardinals nabbed DJ late in the 3rd round, being Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, TJ Yeldon, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman and Duke Johnson.
All he has done since then is establish himself as one of the NFLs best pure running backs, one of the games best all around backs, and one of the games best all around players. He has racked up 3,844 all purpose yards in 33 NFL games, while only starting in 22 of them. He unfortunately suffered an eventual season-ending injury in Week 1 of this 2017 season against the Detroit Lions, but that simply delayed his ascension to stardom.
In his rookie season, Johnson averaged 4.6 yards per carry on his way to 581 yards and 8 rushing touchdowns, adding 457 receiving yards (12.7 yards per reception) and 4 more TDs, as well as 598 return yards (108 of which came on his longest return TD of his young career). Racking up 1,636 total yards your rookie season is no small feat, especially considering he only started 5 games in 2015 to an astounding 8.94 yards per touch.
Impressive right? All DJ did in 2016 was double his offensive output. He exploded through the sophomore slump gaining 1,239 yards and 16 TDs on the ground and 879 yards and 4 TDs through the air. His carries more than doubled from 125 to 293, his rushing yards boomed from 581 to 1,239, receiving yards multiplied from 457 to 879, and his receptions skyrocketed from 36 to 80 in 2016. His 2,118 scrimmage yards in 2016 led the NFL and set an Arizona Cardinals franchise record. Since his first career start in 2015, he led the NFL in scrimmage yards, rushing yards and TDs scored (Week 13, 2015 to Week 17, 2016). David tied the NFL record (with Barry Sanders) for most games in a season with 100+ scrimmage yards, and owns the NFL record for most such games to start a season (15). Take a look at DJ’s run against the Eagles last season, and you’ll grasp just how unstoppable he is:
I could keep rattling off his statistics, records and accolades from his first two seasons in the NFL, but you can also do some digging yourself at the links Ive included so far in this piece.
Arguably more impressive, however, are his off the field actions. DJ has been married to Meghan Johnson since 2015, and together they have their son David Jr. David has the David Johnsons Mission Foundation, which I encourage you to check out and support via the link above. He and his foundation help the lives of ill children, and look to help them and their families with support, resources and life changing experiences.
He is, and has been, a supporter of bullying victims and has shared his story through interviews and a Players Tribune article. Having anyone in your corner when you feel trapped or bullied, especially an All-Pro NFL player, is extremely important for kids and adults anywhere.
And as if that wasnt enough to make you a fan, DJ is excellent on social media, frequently reaching out and responding to lucky fans including myself:
His 2017 season may have been cut short, but I hope you all didnt forget about David Johnson in Arizona. I know I didnt, and I cant wait to watch him tear up the NFL once again in 2018 (and have his help winning another fantasy football championship).