The A team: Greg Johnson
Every week TexasSports.com highlights a UT senior student-athlete who earned Academic All-Big 12 honors in 2005-06.
Being tabbed a freshman All-American punter at one of the nation's premiere private universities is enough for most people. Not enough for Greg Johnson, however. As a freshman at Vanderbilt in 2002, he ranked in the top five nationally for both his average yards per punt and net punting average and was honored with his team's Special Teams Player of the Year award, yet he desired something else.
"Coming from Vanderbilt, I was going to major in business at Texas. I took a communications class my first year here, and I really enjoyed the material," Johnson admitted. "I took another course, liked that one, and ended up transferring into the College of Communication."
Like many of Texas' academic programs, the College of Communication is one of the nation's foremost leaders in the field, and the now-Corporate Communication senior is riding high in the classroom.
"One of my favorite classes at Texas is actually a class I am in right now called 'Lying and Deception.' Dr. (Mark) Knapp teaches the course, and I have seen his name on just about every communications textbook that I've used while in school," Johnson said. "I finally got to take one of his classes this year, and it's great because he is always making a joke and he is really interesting to listen to."
While balancing the rigors of academics and athletics at his new school, Johnson twice appeared on the UT Athletics Director's Honor Roll and garnered second-team Academic All-Big 12 honors in 2005.
After completing his six remaining credit hours this semester, he is set to graduate in December. As far as his life post-graduation, the boy who grew up in Georgia has a plan.
"I will probably take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and see about going to graduate school somewhere." Johnson said. "If not, I am thinking about getting my real estate license. I would really love to stay in the Austin area."
As Johnson excelled in the classroom, in order to return to the playing field, he abided by the NCAA's transfer rules and sat out the 2003 season before serving as a backup on punts and kickoffs in 2004. During last year's National Championship campaign, Johnson took on kickoff duties three games into the season, setting himself up as the starting place-kicker in 2006 while also taking over the starting punting duties.
Of Texas' 15 punts to date this season, Johnson has had his foot on 14 (redshirt freshman Trevor Gerland had the other versus Sam Houston State). He is averaging 43.2 yards per punt, and when combined with Gerland, the Longhorns have a combined average of 44.3 yards per punt. Johnson, Gerland and the rest of the Texas special teams unit ranks second nationally with a net punting average of 42.8 yards, trailing only South Carolina.
Additionally, with 31 points to his credit, Johnson leads the team in points scored, making all 28 of his extra points and adding one field goal on the season. On a Texas team that ranks fourth nationally in scoring offense, this speaks volumes to the great impact Johnson has on the roster.
As a now-accomplished veteran on the Longhorns sideline and a proven scholar in classrooms on the Forty Acres, Johnson realizes the importance of being a good role model to the younger players, both on and off the field.
"You know they are looking to you as an older guy who has been here and experienced things," Johnson acknowledged. "If they see you going to class and making good grades, chances are they will do the same thing. I don't try to be their dad or tell them what to do, but I just try to set a good example."
And setting an example he is.