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USF Football Player Profile: #2 RB D’Ernest Johnson

Career profile of USF running back D’Ernest Johnson.

NCAA Football: Birmingham Bowl-South Florida vs South Carolina Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

#2 RB D’Ernest Johnson - Senior, 5’10”, 208 lbs.

That’s Pronounced: DEE-er-nest. Sound out the letter D.

2016 Stats: Already a busy man on offense and special teams, D’Ernest got even busier when Darius Tice’s injury knocked him out of the lineup. Johnson picked up most of the extra playing time and made the most of it. He played in all 13 games and:

  • Carried the ball 111 times for 543 yards and eight touchdowns.
  • Caught 28 passes (second on the team) for 293 yards and five TDs.
  • Returned 18 punts for 213 yards (an 11.8 yard average) and housed one against Syracuse from 83 yards out.
  • Returned eight kickoffs for 231 yards.
  • Threw one incomplete pass against Syracuse, ruining his perfect all-time passer rating.

That’s a total of 1,280 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns, which would have been a school record if both Quinton Flowers (18) and Marlon Mack (15) hadn’t scored even more. D’Ernest cemented his place as USF football’s all-time Mr. Versatile, and he was named the American’s second-team all-conference return specialist at the end of the season.

2015 Stats: Johnson’s versatility got him plenty of playing time. He had 71 carries for 307 yards, 26 catches for 256 yards, 21 kickoff returns for 563 yards, and a 25-yard punt return. He finished with 1,251 all-purpose yards, behind only Marlon Mack and Rodney Adams, and scored five touchdowns. He set a school record for all-purpose yards in a game with 281 against Cincinnati. And if that wasn’t enough, he was also 2-for-2 for 63 yards and two touchdowns as a passer.

2014 Stats: D’Ernest played in all 12 games as a true freshman. He had 46 carries for 150 yards, and caught eight passes for 107 yards. His only touchdown of the season was on a bulldozing 12-yard reception against SMU. Johnson also racked up 157 yards on eight kickoff returns.

How He Came To USF: D’Ernest is another Immokalee High School product. As multitalented as he is for USF, he was even more so for the Indians: running and catching the ball, returning kicks, playing linebacker for a time, and even punting his senior year. He racked up 2,859 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns in his last two years of high school, plus 51 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and an 80-yard touchdown pass. Immokalee reached the Class 5A state title game in 2012 and Johnson was named an all-state honorable mention player.

And because we never get sick of this play, here’s his ridiculous kickoff return for a touchdown his senior year at Immokalee:

D’Ernest’s college recruitment came down to the wire, but he chose USF in February 2014 over offers from Louisville, Georgia, Ole Miss, and West Virginia, among others.

Recruiting Rankings: Johnson was a four-star prospect on Rivals, a high three-star prospect on ESPN, and a three-star on 247 and Scout.

Follow Him On... Johnson is on Twitter at @DernestJohnson5 (note the use of the NFL Draft stage as his background photo), and his Instagram is dernestjohnson2.