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TCU lands Jawuan Johnson, grad transfer LB from Northern Illinois

LINCOLN, NE – SEPTEMBER 16: Linebacker Jawuan Johnson #7 of the Northern Illinois Huskies celebrates after scoring against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

TCU received a boost to its defense over the weekend.

Jawuan Johnson, a graduate transfer linebacker from Northern Illinois, announced on Sunday that he will play his last season of college football for the Horned Frogs. The 6-foot, 218-pound Johnson was a third-team all-MAC selection at outside linebacker in 2017.

As a redshirt junior, Johnson played alongside All-American defensive end Sutton Smith and finished the year with 98 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, four sacks and a team-leading five interceptions. In NIU’s upset win over Nebraska, Johnson returned an interception for a touchdown.

Johnson, whose family lives in Texarkana, Texas, told ESPN that TCU was his top choice. He initially also sent his release to Baylor and SMU and told ESPN he had a scheduled visit to Alabama.

From ESPN.com:

Born in East St. Louis, Illinois, Johnson played high school football in Texas and wanted to play his final season closer to his family. After deciding to leave Northern Illinois, he reached out to TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney, a high school teammate, who connected him to the Frogs coaches.

“TCU was my dream school,” he said. “I had moved to Texas in seventh grade, and my first year of football was there. Texas taught me a lot about football.”

NIU was the only FBS program to offer Johnson a scholarship out of high school. He redshirted his first year with the program before appearing in 13 games and making 31 tackles as a redshirt freshman. An injury limited Johnson to just four games in 2016. When he returned to the field in 2017, he made a big impact on an NIU defense that led the country in team tackles for loss and finished No. 26 nationally in total defense.

Johnson, who is on pace to graduate from NIU in May, could slide into the spot in TCU’s 4-2-5 defense vacated by Travin Howard, who compiled a whopping 345 tackles over the last three seasons.

Coming off an 11-3 record in 2017, TCU opens the 2018 season against Southern at home on Sept. 1.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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