NFL SIGNING: Johnson picked in fourth round by Bengals

J. Michael Moore

It seemed only fitting that a player known for his ability to come out of no where and step up would enter the NFL with a team looking for role players.

The Cincinnati Bengals drafted former Hilltopper fullback Jeremi Johnson on Sunday in the fourth round of the NFL draft.

He wasn’t the Bengals’ most notable pick – No. 1 pick and Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer got that distinction – but Johnson has his chance to impress.

“He’s a young, big guy that has done the things that we feel our fullback needs to be able to do,” Bengals running back coach Jim Anderson said in a released statement. “We think he has the qualities to help us come in and achieve our goal.”

Johnson, a 5-foot-11, 275 pounder from Louisville, led the Toppers with a 6.2 yards per carry average last season. He was third on the team with 637 rushing yards.

He had two rushing and two receiving touchdowns.

Johnson had 23 receptions for 310 yards on the year, including three catches for 90 yards and a touchdown in Western’s 34-14 victory over McNeese State in the Division I-AA national championship.

The Bengals selected nine players in last weekends’ draft. Besides Johnson and Palmer, other picks include:

Iowa guard Eric Steinbach, Tennessee receiver Kelley Washington, Oregon State cornerback Dennis Weathersby, Mars Hill linebacker Khalid Abdullah, South Carolina defensive tackle Langston Moore, North Carolina State tackle Scott Kooistra and Central Florida defensive end Elton Patterson.

Cincinnati’s draft class has been highly praised by several publications, including receiving an “A-” from writer Len Pasquarelli.

Reach J. Michael Moore at [email protected]