Buffalo walk-on safety Najja Johnson earns Jim Thorpe Award 2013 preseason watch list honors

Buffalo senior Najja Johnson earns watch list honors from the Jim Thorpe Award on Friday. - Scott Cunningham

On Friday, Buffalo senior Najja Johnson went from former walk-on to a nationally recognized defensive back by picking up watch list honors.

Buffalo walk-on and senior safety Najja Johnson earned Jim Thorpe Award 2013 preseason watch list honors Friday – presented to the nation’s best defensive back.

Johnson started 12 games and recorded 43 tackles (27 solo) and a Mid-American Conference-leading five interceptions in 2012. He finished his junior year ranked 13th in interceptions nationally.

Miami (OH) senior cornerback Dayonne Nunley and Northern Illinois senior safety Jimmie Ward join Johnson as the only players from the MAC to make the watch list.

The award winner will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12 on ESPN.

Brandon Folsom can be contacted at bfolsom@mlive.com. Follow him on Twitter for additional information about college football, basketball, and recruiting.

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