Senior Salute - Najja Johnson

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

His Journey: A walk-on from Georgia, Najja walked on to the Bulls in 2009 working with the scout team before seeing action in 2010 and becoming a consistent starter in the Bulls secondary in 2011. With 35 starts and 46 games played, Najja will best be remembered for his ability to defend the pass, tied for first overall with 39 passes defended with one game to play.

Debut Performance: Johnson's first tackle came in 2010 against RG3's Baylor team.

Breakout Performance: In 2011 Johnson recorded his first pass breakup in his third start at Ball State. He added 3 more to record 4 pass breakups on the day. With his breakout performance, UB came very close to defeating Ball State's high powered passing game.


Senior Moment: Against UConn, UB's offense was still stuck in first gear while the defense helped UB take a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter. UConn answered with a field goal, and UB went three-and-out. Najja Johnson was able to intercept Chandler Whitmer on 3rd and 10, and return it 33 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. At the time UB was still in that unsure post Stony Brook period. The interception sparked a 212-50 run for UB over 6 wins.

Records: Najja is tied for 1st in UB history in passes defended. He also joins Gemara Williams (03-05) and Domonic Cook (08-10) as Bulls who led the team in passes defended for three consecutive years. Najja also tied Cortney Lester and Khalil Mack for the team lead in interceptions this year, his second consecutive year with a team high in interceptions. Johnson joins Gordon Bukaty (58-59), Dan Stella (64-65), Tom Hurd (66-67), John Bernard (82-83), Steve Nappo (85-86), Bill Tipton (95-96), and Mike Newton (06-07) as UB athletes to lead the team in interceptions in consecutive seasons.

UB has been very successful when they have had one player lead the team in interceptions in consecutive seasons. In 16 seasons, UB is 92-73-3 and have at least a .500 record over the course of the two seasons in seven of eight instances, (they went 7-17 in 06-07 when Newton led the Bulls in INTs).

Future: Named to the All-MAC first team defense,  UB has a history of getting defensive backs into training camps (Thomas, Newton, Shannon etc) with his size and speed, 6 ft, 4.55 40-yard dash, Johnson could work his way into the NFL.

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