‘It’s not really a sad story’: Texas LB Gary Johnson pushed past 'life full of setbacks' to verge of NFL


SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis has the Raiders, Jets and Patriots being very active on draft night and Kyler Murray falling down the board.

AUSTIN, Texas — Gary Johnson cradled gently the 4-month-old who claimed the smallest burnt orange T-shirt at Texas’ pro day.

“Say cheese,” the linebacker told his son, G’Amir, from the 10-yard-line of the Longhorns’ indoor practice facility. “You don’t want to smile?”

Dad smiled anyway as personnel from all 32 NFL teams packed up.

He had reason to.

Johnson didn’t run the 40-yard dash in front of attendees that afternoon. He hadn’t needed to after clocking a blazing 4.43-second mark, second fastest among linebackers, at the NFL scouting combine a month earlier.

The 6-0, 226-pound Johnson focused instead on selling scouts on his hip flexibility and hands. He focused on cementing the opportunity he had longed for through years in foster care, group homes and at junior college. He focused on ensuring he could provide for a mother in poverty, eight younger siblings and two children of his own, each less than 5 months old.

Johnson focused on the towel tucked into his waist. It read simply:…

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