Herd’s Devon Johnson on Maxwell Award Watch List

Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall star running back Devon Johnson, who burst into national consciousness last season with 1,767 rushing yards for the nationally ranked Herd, was named today to the Maxwell Award Watch List for the 2015 season.


The Maxwell Football Club, of Philadelphia, has presented the Maxwell Award annually to the national college football player of the year since 1937. The 2015 Maxwell Watch List includes 80 players.


Johnson, a senior from Richlands, Va., was moved to running back in August camp prior to last season by Coach Doc Holliday and his staff after Johnson had previous stints at linebacker and tight end. Despite missing one game and significant portions of others, the 6-foot-2, 242-pound Johnson gave Marshall a new balance on offense with his bullish rushing.


Johnson – nicknamed “Rockhead” by Herd players and coaches -- was moved from tight end primarily to provide protection in the passing game. By season’s end of a Conference USA championship year for the No. 22/23 Herd (13-1), Johnson had 10 games of 100 or more rushing yards, including a school-record 272 yards in an Oct. 25 victory over Florida Atlantic.


He also had games of 198 yards at Old Dominion and 199 yards against Rice. Forty-eight of his 206 rushes were for 10 or more yards, and he had 14 carries of 30 or more yards. Johnson’s longest run was a 75-yarder in a crucial late-season victory at UAB. He also had six pass receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns – and didn’t allow a sack in picking up blitzes.


His 8.58 yards per carry topped all FBS running backs who carried more than 150 times during the season. Johnson ranked fifth nationally with 135.9 yards per game, and ran for 17 touchdowns, including a season-high four TDs in the win over FAU. Johnson’s 1,767 rushing yards ranks No. 2 in Herd history (Chris Parker, 1,833 in 1995) and is the school mark in Marshall’s major-college seasons.


Johnson was one of 10 semifinalists last season for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented to the nation’s top running back. He led Conference USA in rushing and was voted by league coaches as an all-conference first team selection. And with Johnson leading the way, Marshall set a school record for ground yards in a season, with 3,807, topping the previous mark (3,395 in 1996) by more than 400 yards.


Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won the 2014 Maxwell Award.


Semifinalists for the 2015 Maxwell Award will be announced Nov. 2, while names of the three finalists will be unveiled Nov. 23. The winner of the 2015 Maxwell Award will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Dec. 10, 2015. The formal presentations will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Tropicana Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on March 11, 2016.


Johnson and the Herd will open the 2015 season on Sunday, Sept. 6 (Labor Day weekend) at 3 p.m. against Purdue at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The Boilermakers will be the first Big Ten Conference football team to visit Huntington.

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