EWU's Johnson granted sixth year of eligibility, will return next season

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by EWU / KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on February 7, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 7 at 7:30 PM

CHENEY -- Eastern Washington linebacker Zach Johnson, plagued by injuries for much of his career, was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. That means he'll be on the field for the Eagles next season.

In his first five years in the program, Johnson had 19 games wiped out because of the same knee injury -- 12 in 2009 and the other seven last year. He earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2010 when he started all 15 games, helping EWU to a 13-2 record and the NCAA Division I National Championship.

“It’s exciting and we’re happy for Zach,” said head coach Beau Baldwin. “He’s worked hard since the day he got here and has been a hard worker all his life. He deserved to get a sixth year based on the injuries he suffered and what he’s gone through. We couldn’t be happier to have Zach back with us."

Johnson played the first four games last season with a chronic tear in his left patellar tendon and had surgery shortly after the announcement on Sept. 27, 2011, that his season had ended. It’s the same injury that required surgery to repair on June 30, 2009. However, Johnson missed the entire 2009 season after a blood clot developed in his leg following the surgery.

Johnson has started all 30 games he has played at Eastern. His 260 career tackles to rank 10th in school history. Johnson’s average of 8.7 tackles per game is fourth-best in school history.

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