Former TCU wide receiver Bart Johnson was a sneaky kind of football player 8212; and not in a bad way. I’m not sure if he intended to be, but he sure seemed to do a lot of it during his four-year career with the Frogs.
First, he snuck past college recruiters in high school. His only Division I football offer was from Harvard. Johnson opted to be a walk-on wide receiver for the TCU scout team.
Then, he snuck past the scout team and depth chart, and found himself as a starter for a top 25 FBS football program.
From there, Johnson snuck past the record books and found himself as the program’s all-time leader for most consecutive games with a catch.
But now comes the hard part for Johnson: sneaking onto an NFL roster.
Johnson worked out at TCU Pro Day a couple weeks ago in front of more than 30 NFL scouts and coaches. He had a nice workout. Johnson caught some passes and completed bench press reps. Still, though, there’s no conceivable reason as to why an NFL franchise should draft Johnson.
Listed at 6 feet, 195 pounds, Johnson is guaranteed to be either smaller, slower or less athletic than six rounds worth of wide receiver prospects coming out of college.
No team is likely to waste a fifth or sixth round draft pick on a player like Johnson if a player like Johnson’s former teammate and wide receiver/return specialist Jeremy Kerley is still available at the time (which Kerley very well could be).
Then again, no team drafted Wes Welker (New England Patriots), Danny Woodhead (New England Patriots) or Blair White (Indianapolis Colts). Those guys look like they should be selling footballs at Dick’s Sporting Goods from 9 to 5 on weekdays. Instead, they’re catching footballs in the NFL on Sundays. They haven’t just found a niche on their teams, they’ve found important, valuable roles and have become key cogs in their respective offenses.
Where did they come from?
Three years ago, Woodhead was playing for Chadron State, a Division III school in Northwest Nebraska. Welker and White played college ball for mediocre FBS teams at Texas Tech and Michigan State, respectively.
Johnson’s background 8212; playing in back-to-back BCS games and having his team finish No. 2 in the final BCS poll his senior year 8212; makes him look like the Reggie Bush compared to the Woodhead-Welker-White trifecta.
He may not be as fast as those three, but his lack of speed is more than made up for by his big game experience and, of course, his hands, which come in handy at the receiver position (no pun intended).
And it’s hard to have a better pair of paws than the one Johnson has. The guy just doesn’t drop passes. Ever.
Plus, if there ever was somebody who wouldn’t quite mesh with the flashy, off-the-field celebrity personas of the NFL (just as Woodhead, Welker and White don’t) it’d be Johnson, whose West Texas drawl is as native to the Lone Star State as the cowboy boots you’ll usually find him in.
Johnson has the potential to be the no-name, intangible-filled, chain-moving receiver that comes out of nowhere early in the NFL season and leaves writers, bloggers and fans scratching their heads wondering where Team X found him.
So make it easy on yourselves, NFL general managers, coaches and scouts.
Johnson is gift-wrapped to perfection and sitting on your front porch as this year’s Woodhead.
This isn’t a sales pitch to draft Johnson, but good advice to at least sign him as a free agent or invite him to mini-camp. Give him a chance and if it doesn’t work out, cut him.
No harm, no foul.
If Johnson never plays a down in the NFL it won’t matter.
His legacy at TCU is already sealed because just like he snuck by the recruiters and the depth chart and the record books, the walk-on turned starter snuck past the secondary of the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl and found himself on the receiving end of the school’s first ever touchdown in the game’s most hallowed sanctuary.
Two hours later, Johnson and his teammates found themselves on the receiving end of a Rose Bowl Championship.
Ryan Osborne is a freshman journalism major from Lawton, Okla. and a writer for SportDFW.com.