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A 1981 Tulsa graduate, Denver Johnson is in his third year as Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach at his alma mater. Johnson was named to the Tulsa coaching staff on January 18, 2011.
Johnson has spent a total of 28 years coaching college football. In the summer of 2012, Johnson was awarded the Merv Johnson Integrity in College Coaching Award by the Jim Thorpe Association.
In 2012, Tulsa's offense ranked fourth nationally for fewest sacks allowed, ninth for rushing offense, 21st for fewest tackles for lost yardage allowed and 28th for total offense. Tulsa's offensive tackles, seniors Brian DeShane and Jared Grigg, each earned first-team all-Conference USA honors, while three of Johnson's players have been named first-team all-league in his two seasons. Clint Anderson was a 2011 first-team all-league selection, while tackle Tyler Holmes was an honorable mention performer in 2011 and spent the 2012 season with the Minnesota Vikings.
Before joining the Tulsa staff, Johnson spent two seasons as the offensive line coach at the University of Colorado (2009-10). The Buffs' offensive unit jumped 66 spots in NCAA stats for fewest sacks allowed in 2010, while he coached offensive lineman Nate Solder who was the New England Patriots first round draft choice in 2011.
Before that, Johnson spent a total of 12 years as a head coach at two Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools, including nine years at Illinois State (2000-08) and the three seasons before that at Murray State (1997-99). He compiled an overall 69-66 career head coaching mark. Johnson recorded a 21-12 record at Murray State and won 48 games at Illinois State. His 2006 ISU team registered a 9-4 mark, the second most wins in school history, advanced to the FCS quarterfinals and finished the season with a No. 8 national ranking.
At Illinois State, his teams produced some of the most prolific offensive campaigns in school history by establishing 28 offensive records, including most points and the most rushing, passing and total yards in a single season.
His ISU teams produced 34 players who receiver All-America honors and 62 first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selections.
Before his first head coaching stop, Johnson spent 11 years as an assistant coach after beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State in 1985. He coached three years at Tennessee-Martin (1986-88), four years at Oklahoma State (1989-92), three seasons at Mississippi State (1993-95) and one year at Oklahoma (1996), coaching the offensive line at all four schools.
An all-Missouri Valley Conference offensive lineman as a senior for the Golden Hurricane, Johnson was an eighth round draft choice by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1981. He spent two years (1981-82) with the Bucs and three seasons in the USFL, playing two years (1983-84) with the Los Angeles Express and the 1985 season with the Houston Gamblers. Johnson's USFL tenure included playing stints with quarterbacks Jim Kelly and Steve Young, who went on to stardom in the NFL.
Johnson earned his bachelor's degree in business management in 1981. He and his wife, Danita Kay, have two daughters: Taylor and Kelsey.
THE JOHNSON FILE
Bowl Games as a Player 1976 Independence Bowl (Tulsa)
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