Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 19 Oregon Ducks (copy)

Defensive tackle PJ Johnson, left, shown celebrating with Arizona teammate JB Brown, has a decision to make soon about his future.

No final decision has been reached regarding the future of Arizona Wildcats defensive tackle PJ Johnson, the Star has learned.

Johnson – who emerged as one of the defense’s top playmakers this season – was listed as a redshirt junior this year. But this past season was Johnson’s fifth since high school, so he would have to get a waiver from the NCAA to play at Arizona next year. He will meet with UA coach Kevin Sumlin sometime soon to determine the best course of action – coming back for another year or pursuing a professional career.

Johnson attended Sacramento State for three years, redshirting for two of them. He missed the 2016 season after having a tumor removed from his leg.

Johnson played for City College of San Francisco in 2017 before transferring to Arizona and enrolling in January. He appeared in 10 games, recording 31 tackles. He finished second on the team with 8.5 stops for losses, including three sacks. He also had two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one pass breakup.

Johnson is the father of two young children; that could factor into his decision.

Arizona loses Johnson’s linemate, nose tackle Dereck Boles, who had 35 tackles, including five TFLs. Restocking the interior of the defensive line is a priority for the coaching staff, regardless of whether Johnson comes back.

Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or On Twitter @michaeljlev 


Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering sports professionally since the early '90s. He started at the Star in 2015 after spending 15 years at The Orange County Register. Michael is a graduate of Northwestern University.