A consistent underdog, Johnson was a two-star recruit coming out of high school, per Rivals.com. He was not nationally ranked at his position, nor was he ranked in his own state. When it came time to pick a university, the two legitimate offers he did receive came locally from San Jose State and San Diego State.
And while he did not receive offers, Johnson also drew interest from California, Fresno State, Oregon and Oregon State.
He evolved at the next level, honing his skills with the Spartans. And regardless of his conference, Johnson was a model of productivity on the field. But entering this year’s draft, he is part of a deep class and the small school does not help his stock.
And just like he was coming out of high school, Johnson is likely to go overlooked when transitioning to the next level. There is the possibility he is a late Day 3 pick, but may also go undrafted altogether.
But Johnson is used to being the underdog, saying, "It's either my size or where I'm playing. It's all the usual stuff. So there's always a little underdog feeling but that's how I perform. I'm used to it," (h/t San Jose Mercury News).
According to CBS Sports, the San Jose State product is projected to go between rounds six and seven, which has him teetering on undrafted free-agent status. However, it only takes one team to believe in him and there is a lot to like about Johnson:
Strengths: Better-than-advertised athlete with natural flexibility to bend and play with leverage and low pad level. Active and competitive, always hustling with top effort. Smart and has a strong understanding of the game. Versatile experience with his hand on the ground and standing up at linebacker.
Quick first step and uses his hands at the point. Uses his eyes well and shows smooth change of direction to quickly adjust. Strong production as a starter, setting a new conference record for sacks (31). Strong-willed and a hard worker on and off the field.
The great thing about Travis Johnson is that one way or another, you know you're getting a football player. He is going to come into the league with a chip on his shoulder, looking to contribute in any way he can and might end up as a late-round steal in 2013.