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Arizona defensive tackle PJ Johnson declares for NFL Draft

pj-johnson-arizona-wildcats-defensive-tackle-nfl-draft Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The PJ Johnson era didn’t last nearly long enough.

Following a breakout 2018 season, his only with the Arizona Wildcats, the 6-foot-4, 335-pound redshirt junior defensive tackle is taking his talents to the next level. Johnson made his decision to enter the NFL Draft official via his Twitter account on Wednesday:

Johnson, a junior college transfer from Sacramento, logged 31 tackles (8.5 for loss) with three sacks and a forced fumble for Arizona. He started 11 games, initially on the interior of the defensive line but then moving out to defensive end where his surprising athleticism made for a matchup nightmare for opposing offensive linemen.

Though he graduated in December, Johnson had been expected to return to the Wildcats for 2019. Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin had said as much last month, but he and his staff made sure to grab reinforcements via the 2019 recruiting class, signing three defensive linemen including a pair of junior college tackles in Trevon Mason and Myles Tapusoa.

They’ll join returning defensive tackles Finton Connolly, Mykee Irving, Nahe Sulunga and incoming freshman Kane Bradford.

Johnson is Arizona’s first starter to leave early for the NFL Draft since junior linebacker Scooby Wright turned pro after the 2015 season. Reserve defensive lineman Larry Tharpe Jr. declared for the draft after the 2017 season but wasn’t drafted.