Ferris State's Devon Johnson Joins NFL's Atlanta Falcons As Preferred Free Agent

FSU

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Big Rapids, Mich. - A Ferris State University football standout will have an opportunity to continue his career in the National Football League (NFL) as offensive tackle Devon Johnson (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley) signed with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons immediately following the NFL Draft on Saturday night.

The 6-8 Johnson agreed to a preferred free agent deal with the Falcons and will join the squad soon for their rookie mini-camp.

Along with Johnson, Bulldog wide receiver Malik Taylor (Flint/Hill-McCloy) also was picked up as a preferred free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL on Saturday evening.

Earlier this spring, Johnson became only the second FSU player ever and the first since 1990 to earn an invitation to the NFL Combine. He also received an invitation and competed in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. He was a consensus All-America choice this past fall for the Bulldogs, who claimed the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Championship and led the nation with 15 victories. Following the season, he began preparations for a potential NFL career in the EXOS NFL Combine Training Program.

A four-year starter, Johnson was also chosen as the GLIAC's Offensive Lineman of the Year and was a three-time All-GLIAC honoree up front for one of the nation's top offensive units. He earned All-America recognition from the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, D2Football.com and the Division II Conference Commissioners Association.

Johnson drew interest from nearly every National Football League organization and was a potential choice to be selected in this year's NFL Draft after being tabbed on various draft boards as one of the nation's top 10 small college prospects. A two-time All-American, he has also been a consensus all-region selection each of the past two years for the Bulldogs and was among the nominees this past year for the 2018 Gene Upshaw Award as the nation's most outstanding lineman.

The veteran standout had made 51 consecutive starts, which is believed to be a school all-time record, before missing the round one Harding playoff game due to an injury sustained in the regular-season finale win at William Jewell. The 51-straight starts for Johnson represented the most in at least the past decade in Division II football. He returned to the starting lineup in the second-round playoff win over Northwest Missouri State and was a regular on the field again during FSU's playoff run to the national title game.

Ferris State capped off the most successful season in school history by reaching the NCAA Division II National Championship game for the first time this past fall. FSU matched an all-time NCAA record with 15 victories (15-1) and won both the GLIAC and Super Region Three Championships this year under head coach Tony Annese.

Johnson and Taylor unoficially represent the 20th and 21st players in Bulldog history who join NFL organizations as free agents. They are also now among nine different FSU standouts who have earned opportunities in the National Football League in recent history as the Bulldogs had a NCAA Division II best seven former players take part in NFL training camps last summer.

Johnson will join former Ferris State teammate Justin Zimmer (Greenville), a defensive tackle, in the Falcons' organization.