2005 (Sr.-6)—He earned honorable mention all-Big 12 honors from the league coaches, as he beat the injury “jinx” that had befallen him the previous two years to have his breakout collegiate season. He played in all 13 games, including the Champs Sports Bowl, with eight starts, and caught 25 passes for 397 yards, his 15.9 yards per reception a team best. He scored four touchdowns, finally getting into the end zone for a six pointer for the first time against New Mexico State (he previously had a 2-point conversion as a junior, and he would add scores against Texas A&M, Kansas and Missouri). He caught four passes for 85 yards at Kansas State, including a 64-yard reception down to the Wildcat 1 to set up a score; it was the second longest reception by a tight end in school history. He also had 70 yards (on three catches) against A&M and had 40 or more yards on five occasions. In the bowl game against Clemson, he led CU in receiving with four catches for 50 yards, and he scored CU’s lone touchdown on a 2-yard reception from Brian White. The coaches named him the recipient of the Tyronee “Tiger” Bussey Award for perseverance over adversity, injury or illness. He accepted an invitation to play in the Las Vegas All-American Classic All-Star game, where he caught one pass for 24 yards. He was CU’s offensive back of the week for his games against Texas A&M and Missouri. He received a medical hardship from the NCAA and became the first player in CU history to be granted a sixth year of eligibility. That enabled him to become the first Colorado player to post game statistics in six different years, as well as to set a record for the most games played in a CU uniform, for both the regular season (52) and overall (55). He was healthy for spring drills and had a good camp.
2004 (Sr.-5)—He saw action in the first three games of the season but suffered a lower leg fracture in practice on Sept. 24 and would miss the rest of the season. He caught three passes for 28 yards prior to going down with the injury. He went into the season healthy for the first time since early in the fall of 2002, as battled almost two years of chronic problems with a toe that eventually required surgery. He had six catches for 67 yards in the three main spring scrimmages, including three for 55 in the Black & Gold game.
2003 (Sr.-RS)—He was injured much of the year as a nagging toe injury kept him out of most of August camp, and when he tried to play against both UCLA and Florida State, he was just too hampered to be anywhere near effective. After the year was complete, he opted for surgery to help mend a stress fracture in the toe, and thus received a medical redshirt for the season. In his limited action, he caught two passes (for nine yards), one in each game he appeared. He also had an emergency intestinal procedure on May 2, which sidelined him from conditioning work for about a month.
2002 (Jr.)—He played in 13 games including the Alamo Bowl (seven starts), as he caught six passes for 42 yards despite battling turf toe most of the year. He scored his first career points in the Missouri game, as he caught a clutch 2-point conversion pass from Robert Hodge that padded the Buff lead to seven late in the game (though MU tied it up, CU won in overtime). He also played an additional 57 snaps on CU’s field goal/PAT unit on special teams.
2001 (Soph.)—He played in all 13 games, including two starts (at Oklahoma State and against Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl) when the Buffs opened in a multiple tight end set. He caught two passes on the year for 25 yards and one first down (one for 18 yards at Oklahoma State, the other for seven yards at Texas). He had six dominant blocks on offense, as he was in for roughly 40 percent of the plays for the year. He also had a kickoff return for six yards on a short pop-up kick; he also had a fair catch in another situation, and he registered five knockdown blocks in clearing the way for return men on special teams. He led the team in receiving with 12 catches for 98 yards in the four full spring scrimmages.
2000 (Fr.)—He lined up as the second-team tight end throughout the season, playing all 11 games and making two starts the last two games of the year (Iowa State, Nebraska) when CU came out in a two-tight end set. He had two catches for 12 yards on the year, but they were big ones against Texas A&M, CU’s first win of the year. He added two knockdown blocks on special teams duty.
HIGH SCHOOL—Considered by many to be one of the top two recruits in the state of Iowa, he earned All-America honors from Prep Football Report, PrepStar, Rivals.com, SuperPrep and USA Today (honorable mention). He was the Gatorade Player-of-the-Year in Iowa, and earned first-team all-Central Iowa Metropolitan League honors. SuperPrep tabbed him as the No. 1 jumbo athlete in the preseason, and ranked him as the No. 3 tight end nationally following the season (the No. 46 player overall on its National 50 and the No. 7 player overall in the Midlands). PrepStar ranked him as the No. 3 tight end overall as well, while PFR had him the No. 25 overall player on its ESPN-Reebok Top 100 list. As a junior, he earned honorable mention all-league honors. His senior year he caught 22 passes for 453 yards and a touchdown, and carried the ball on occasion (six times for 30 yards). On defense, as rush defensive end, he was in on 35 tackles, with nine tackles for loss including six quarterback sacks, along with 18 pressures, two forced fumbles and a blocked punt. Top games came against Valley, when he caught a 74-yard touchdown pass, the longest in league play, and against Ankeny, when he caught five passes for 95 yards. As a junior, he had 13 catches for 130 yards and a score on offense, while posting six sacks on defense. He had eight catches for 86 yards a touchdown as a sophomore (he did not play defense). Johnston was 3-6 his senior year, 2-7 his junior season and 8-3 his sophomore year under coach Spence Evans. He also lettered four times in basketball (center), averaging 10 points and eight rebounds per game as a senior, earning honorable mention all-conference honors. He matched that with four letters in track: he was ranked No. 1 in the state in the discus as a junior (career best throw of 173-9), and also ran the 200-meter dash (23.6 PR) and the 400-meter dash (54.0).
ACADEMICS--He graduated in May 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism (news editorial), and is working toward a second degree this May in history. He was an honor roll student in high school, owning better than a 3.1 grade point average, which included several advanced courses.
PERSONAL—Born April 14, 1982 in Des Moines, Iowa. His hobbies include most outdoor activities, especially hiking, fishing and skiing, and working on his truck. He was a member of the show choir for four years in high school, participating in several shows. He has traveled to Europe, has also taught swimming lessons and worked two years as a student assistant in the athletic media relations office during his off-season. Father (George) lettered four years as an outside linebacker at Drake in the early 1970s. (Last name pronounced sip-new-ski.)
G No Yds Avg TD Long Rec Yds 11 2 12 6.0 0 7 2 12 12 2 25 12.5 0 18 1 18 12 6 42 7.0 0 18 2 18 2 2 9 4.5 0 5 1 5 3 3 28 9.3 0 23 2 30 12 25 397 15.9 4 64 4 85 52 40 513 12.8 4 64 4 85
ADDITIONAL STATISTICS—Kickoff Returns: 1-6, 6.0 avg. (2001). Two-Point Conversions Made: 1 (2002). Special Teams Tackles: 1,1- 2 (2005)