Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at RB Chris Johnson.
5 carries for 35 yards; 11 tackles, 1 fumble recovery
Role in 2012: Johnson made little impact offensively, but he was a special-teams standout who led the Gators with 11 tackles on special teams.
The good: The 5-foot-9, 202-pound Johnson has a knack for knifing through kickoff and punt coverage and making the tackle. Not only does he lead the team in special teams tackles, he leads them in solo stops on special teams as well (five). He also was in the right spot at the right time to help deliver one of the most important plays of the season. His fumble recovery on a kickoff set the Gators up inside the South Carolina 15-yard line and led to a touchdown and 21-3 first-half lead.
The bad: Johnson needs some stability. He’s played three positions since signing with Florida in 2011. He started out as a safety and was playing linebacker when UF coach Will Muschamp asked him to move to running back this past spring. But it doesn’t look like he’ll get to be a significant contributor on offense because the Gators bring in two high-profile recruits in Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane. Matt Jones enters the offseason as the starter.
Crystal ball: Johnson will likely make his biggest impact on special teams in 2013 and beyond. There’s too much talent at running back, including Trey Burton, for him to get many touches. But there are worse things than being a special-teams standout, especially for a Muschamp-coached team. The Gators’ special teams are among the best in the nation and Johnson will eventually end up being a captain of the unit.