Texas A&M football’s leading tackler for two consecutive years could be days away from a professional career.
Former linebacker Buddy Johnson will be getting his shot at an NFL roster during the 2021 NFL Draft from Thursday, April 29 to Saturday, May 1 in Cleveland. Johnson led the Aggies in tackles in 2019 and 2020, with 77 total tackles in 2019 and 86 last season.
Johnson said the faith his coaches have had in him has attributed to his maturity and the expectations he has for himself in the draft.
“Over the years I’ve matured,” Johnson said. “I understand [that] sometimes coaches see things in you that you don’t, and coaches seeing [certain things] in me, [that] I was able to step up to the task when the draft comes and I hear my name. There’s [going to be] no feeling like [it].”
On March 30 in College Station, the Dallas native was put on display for scouts at A&M’s Pro Day. Johnson did not fail to take advantage of the opportunity.
Weighing in at 229 pounds and 6-feet tall, Johnson ran a 4.57 40-yard dash. He also had a 38.5” vertical jump along with a 10’-8” broad jump.
Johnson said many team representatives took note of him on Pro Day.
“Today on my performance, every scout out there was just extremely impressed, everyone was saying, ‘Great job,’” Johnson said.
In the 2020 season, in addition to the 86 total tackles, Johnson logged two forced fumbles and four sacks for a total of 14 yards lost. However, coaches and scouts alike have not just been impressed with his statsheet, they also admire his intelligence on the field.
“A lot of teams are really impressed with my football IQ,” Johnson said. “I think all of my coaches did an amazing job developing me into a great linebacker on and off the field, mentally and physically.”
Aside from his statistics and intelligence, Johnson is seeking to bring accountability and leadership to the league.
In addition to being a statistical leader for the Aggies in tackles the past two seasons, Johnson said he wants to be the kind of leader and player that can be depended on.
“Two words to go by: accountability and dependability,” Johnson said. “You want to always be able to count on somebody, and you always want to be able to depend on someone. I just feel like those two traits are huge for me.”
One game where Johnson demonstrated his accountability was against LSU in 2020.
During the game against the former national champion, Johnson accounted for one of the two touchdowns scored by the maroon and white. He did this off of a 15-yard interception return in the third quarter.
This was the only touchdown scored by a defensive player for A&M during the 2020 season, meaning that not only did he lead the defense in tackles, but also in touchdowns.
Johnson said he is looking forward to seeing his reward for all of his diligence come to fruition.
“It’ll just feel like all of my hard work has been paid off,” Johnson said. “It’s the biggest dream of mine to play in the NFL. I just love being around football, and it's really because of my relationship with my brothers and going out and putting on a show with each other.”