Editor’s note: In the final 50 days before Chip Kelly and the Ducks return to the field to defend their status as Pac-12 Champions, the Emerald sports desk will take a look back at one University of Oregon alumnus each day whose jersey number corresponds to the amount of days left before the season opener against Arkansas State.
Alongside Jonathan Stewart, Jeremiah Johnson handled running back duties for the Ducks from 2005 to 2008, finishing his career with 2,336 yards, putting him in sixth place in program history. Johnson was a scout team player in the beginning of his freshman year but his redshirt was lifted four games into the season, allowing him to join the running backs rotation and eventually finish the season as the team’s fourth leading rusher.
Johnson was a more featured part of the Oregon attack in his senior season, averaging just under 50 yards a game while also returning kicks for the Ducks. He started 2007 splitting time equally with Stewart as the number one option and racking up 344 yards in his first six games before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.
With a surgically repaired knee Johnson returned to the field in 2008 and had a breakout senior season averaging over 90 yards per game with 13 touchdowns to match. In the Ducks 65-38 drubbing of Oregon State that kept the Beavers from the 2009 Rose Bowl, Johnson ran for over 200 yards including this 83-yard score near the end of the first half.
Though his name was not called in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Senior Bowl participant was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Houston Texans and has bounced around several practice rosters before landing with the Denver Broncos, where he made his NFL debut as the third string running back. Johnson finished the 2011 season with 64 yards.