Chalk up another accolade for standout East Carolina wide receiver C.J. Johnson.
The young receiver has been named a FWAA Freshman All-American, according to an announcement on Monday in New Orleans, La., ahead of the NCAA FBS national championship game.
Johnson established a freshman school-record for receiving yards with 908 yards through the air, surpassing what the likes of Justin Hardy, Zay Jones and Dwayne Harris – among other Pirate wide receiver greats – did their first year on campus in the purple and gold. Johnson led the Pirates in yards per reception (16.8), and finished second in total receptions (54) and touchdown catches (four).
The Greenville, N.C., native from D.H. Conley High School established a strong connection with former high school teammate and quarterback Holton Ahlers midway through the year. Playing in all 12 games, including six starts, Johnson became a focal part of the offense once conference play started. He caught his first career touchdown against Temple, reaching 100 yards receiving in the process. Johnson also had 141 receiving yards against Tulsa, and 106 at UCF. But his best performance came against Cincinnati on Nov. 2 inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium when the receiver caught 12 passes for a school- and conference-record 283 receiving yards.
Johnson is one of eight players in East Carolina history to be named to the Football Writers Association of America-Shaun Alexander Freshman All-American Team. He’s the initial offensive player to earn the honor, and the first since linebacker Jeremy Grove was named a Freshman All-American in 2011.
Along with being named to the FWAA All-American Team, Johnson was also named to the 247Sports True Freshman Team. He was a multiple All-American Athletic Conference selection in 2019 as well, earning first-team accolades from Phil Steele Publications and honorable mention recognition from league head coaches.
The 13-person panel of nationally-prominent college football experts represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents in the selecting the team. Both true freshmen (20 players) and redshirt freshmen (12 players) were considered for the team.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team.
A thee-star recruit out of DH Conley as part of the 2019 recruiting class, Johnson picked hometown East Carolina over several other offers, including Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia Tech. Johnson was beginning to receive interest from SEC programs when he shut down his recruitment and elected to stay home for college ball.
With 908 yards as a freshman, Johnson is currently on pace to finish third all-time in receiving yards in ECU history behind Jones (4,279) and Hardy (4,541).