A throw-back of sorts as determined by his physical and aggressive style of play ... Will open final collegiate season as a viable honors candidate at both the Conference USA and national level if full comeback from off-season shoulder surgery is realized ... Regardless, penciled in as the projected starter at the middle linebacking position for the second consecutive season ... Always appears to have a knack of being at the right time at the right place - a true student of the game - especially in bigger games as evidenced by back-to-back career-high tackle performances in a pair of 2008 post-season battles ... Coaches also cite tenacity and quickness as positive athletic qualities ... Perhaps made one of the biggest impacts of any Pirate rookie in recent memory on the defensive side of the ball three years ago ... Thrown into the fire early during true freshman campaign on one of ECU's biggest stages in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium history when making debut against No. 4 West Virginia in front of a national television audience (ESPN2) ... Was held out of spring drills because of aforementioned shoulder injury (and rehabilitation) ... A Preseason All-Conference USA selection (first team) by Phil Steele Magazine and Sporting News.
2008: Completed junior season as the Pirates' leading tackler with 102 stops, nearly all coming from his middle linebacking position ... Started 10 of 14 games and posted at least seven tackles in eight contests ... Recorded three double-digit efforts - following an 11-stop outing against Houston with back-to-back career-high 13-tackle performances in post-season games against Tulsa and Kentucky ... Effort against Wildcats earned ECU Defensive MVP honors from the AutoZone Liberty Bowl ... Had two interceptions, the first coming in the opener against Virginia Tech and the other in the regular season finale vs. UTEP ... Stood second on the squad with 10.0 tackles for lost yardage while also earning credit for one sack (UCF), one forced fumble (Houston), one recovered fumble (Houston), three pass breakups (Marshall, UAB, UTEP) and three quarterback "pressures" (Virginia Tech, N.C. State, UTEP) ... Tallied a career-high three stops for lost yardage in contests vs. Virginia (-4 yards) and UCF (-19) ... Also topped team with 56 tackles (32 solo) during eight-game Conference USA schedule ... Selected to the honorable mention All-Conference USA unit by league head coaches while garnering third-team all-league honors from Phil Steele Magazine ... Ranked among C-USA leaders in total tackles (11th/7.3 pg overall, 15th/7.0 in eight league games) ... Moved into a permanent starting role when Quentin Cotton suffered a season-ending knee injury vs. Tulane (which moved starting MLB Pierre Bell to the outside) ... Keyed a defensive unit that held three opponents to under 100 rushing yards (Tulane/76, UCF/82, UTEP/57) and two opponents to less than 100 passing yards (West Virginia/72, Memphis/82), while forcing a total of 33 turnovers (No. 7 national rank) ... Picked off first career pass vs. Hokies in the second quarter and returned it 19 yards to the VT one-yard line to set up ECU's first score ... Had two nine-tackle efforts (N.C. State, UAB) ... First career sack came at UCF, dropping Knights' quarterback Michael Greco for a 17-yard loss ... Nearly half (six) of 13-tackle total against Tulsa in the C-USA Championship Game came in the first quarter ... Recipient of the defense's Overton Decal Award for racking up the most helmet stickers (74) and the unit's Crunch Award (most big hits).
2007: Played in 11 games as a reserve linebacker ... Missed final two regular season games (Marshall, Tulane) with a knee and a back injury ... Tallied 28 total stops (14 solo, 14 assist) with 1.5 TFLs (-3 yards) ... Contributed a season-high five tackles in back-to-back games vs. UCF and UTEP, helping Pirates to a pair of pivotal league victories ... Added four hits each against West Virginia and N.C. State ... Forced first career fumble and netted a pass breakup vs. Wolfpack ... Opened campaign with a pair of tackles at Virginia Tech and closed season with two stops vs. Boise State in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl at Aloha Stadium.
2006: Promoted to active duty against No. 4 West Virginia as a reserve line backer after sitting out the first three games (Navy, UAB and Memphis) ... Followed by playing in 10 consecutive contests as a top reserve at middle linebacker ... Collected 27 total tackles (18 solo) ... Also added three tackles for lost yardage, two pass break-ups and one fumble recovery (SMU) ... Collegiate debut against Mountaineers produced a then career-high seven tackles (three solo) vs. one of the nation's top rushing attacks ... Also topped all Pirate defenders with 2.5 TFL (-4 yards) during battle with WVU ... Booked nine stops in consecutive weeks against Tulsa (five) and SMU (four) ... Contributed four tackles (three solo) against Marshal, helping play a key role for a unit that held C-USA leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw to a season-low 26 yards rushing (35 overall team yards) ... Other contest of note was a three-stop effort at Rice ... Credited with one tackle vs. South Florida in the Papajohns.com Bowl at Legion Field.
High School: Racked up a combined 351 tackles during his award-winning four-year high school career at East Mecklenburg ... A noted hard-hitter who earned a total of four letters and was honored with team captain designation in three of four seasons ... A first-team All Southwestern Conference pick as a sophomore, junior and senior ... A two-year first-team all-county selection ... Named to the Charlotte Observer's All-Area squad in 2004 ... Produced top season as a junior, tallying 151 stops, 18 tackles for lost yardage, six sacks, six kick blocks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles ... Followed impressive showing with a 76-tackle effort during senior campaign ... Also added 11 hits behind the line of scrimmage, three sacks, two blocked kicks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 2005 ... Emerged in the headlines as a sophomore in 2003 by netting 103 tackles, six forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles, three sacks and a pair of interceptions ... Opened prep career with 21 stops as a freshman (four sacks, two forced fumbles and one recovery) ... Also picked up 42 yards on eight carries on offensive side of the ball ... Earned two track letters, competing in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter events ... Excelled in classroom work with Honor Roll selection every year ... Coach was Greg Hill.
Personal: Full name is Nicholas Edward Johnson ... Born March 31, 1988 at Hendersonville, N.C. ... Major is business (finance) ... Enjoys golf in his spare time ... Earned selection to the 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 Athletic Director's Honor Roll.