Tyler Johnstone is kind of a big deal.
There was the time he knocked Will Farrell’s slurpee off the hood of his car, and the time his mother, a flight attendant, got all the flight attendants on the plane to wear his jersey.
Let’s meet again at the 2017 Pro Bowl: Tyler Johnstone, Josh Huff and Marcus Mariota share a laugh with Bears first round pick Kyle Long at the Oregon Pro Day back in March. (Michael Arellano, Oregon Daily Emerald photo)
Then there is his legendary bromance with roommate and fellow offensive line stalwart Andre Yruretagoyena:
Every successful team needs a Tyler Johnstone. He’s the first Duck to greet a skill position player in the end zone and the guy who’s always ready with a joke, a story, a face palm or a laugh. And, he’s a terrific football player.
Along with center Hroniss Grasu, Oregon’s starting left tackle was recently named to both the Lombardi and the Outland Trophy Watch Lists, awards given to the best interior lineman in the country.
As a left tackle, Johnstone has one of the most important jobs in the offense, protecting quarterback Marcus Mariota’s blind side on pass plays, cutting off the backside pursuit on runs to the strong side.
6-6 250 as an All-Region lineman at Hamilton High in Chandler, Arizona, #64 hit the weights all through winter and spring with Yruretagoyena and came to Oregon at 275. He’s now an athletic 292lbs. as a redshirt sophomore, and it’s a testament to the fact that while Tyler doesn’t take life, or himself seriously, he takes football very, very seriously. An Army All-American who chose the Ducks over Stanford, TCU, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Duke and a dozen other schools, Johnstone’s Hamilton teams went 29-1 with 25 wins in a row and two state titles. The offensive line powered a rushing offense that averaged 264 yards a game and 7.4 yards a carry.
For the Ducks, the strong, agile left tackle started all 13 games as a redshirt freshman, on a 12-1 team that finished #2 in the country while averaging 315 yards per game rushing and 6 yards a carry. He played every offensive snap, 82 in all against USC, a game in which the Duck offense went for 730 yards and 62 points.
Johnstone is 41-2 in his last three years of competitive football, 53-4 if you count his redshirt year, with two BCS bowl rings. He also made honorable mention academic All-PAC-12 as a redshirt freshman, likely to make first team this year after a year starting. Cbssports.com ranks him the #4 offensive tackle in his draft class for 2016, though he’ll be eligible to come out after next year. In his first year starting he made three freshman All-America teams, as well as Phil Steele’s preseason 2013 All-PAC-12 squad.
Success, attention and notoriety can be an enticing layer cake for a young person, and Johnstone has worked hard to keep his mind right in the hoopla. Before the Fiesta Bowl last year he told Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic,
You can’t let people get in your head saying, ‘Pick up a fumble and score a touchdown for me.’ You have to go out there and play your game and not play for anybody else but yourself and your teammates. I learned a valuable lesson.
Like most of Oregon’s outstanding offensive line unit, Johnstone has the agility and speed (4.95 in the 40 at 292 lbs.) to get out and block laterally on stretch plays or at the second level after a bust block double team on the line of scrimage.
On this 42-yard touchdown run by Marcus Mariota in the 2012 Civil War, Johnstone gets a solid seal block on #95 Scott Crichton, the Beavers All-League defensive end. The announcer exclaims “Mariota didn’t need a block” but the replay (at 12 seconds) clearly shows Johnstone #64 sealing off Crichton just two steps off the ball at the mesh point, a critical block that made the touchdown possible:
In this clip, an 86-yard touchdown run by Mariota in the Arizona State game, Johnstone and tight end Colt Lyerla execute a perfect double team block on #95, ASU defensive end Gannon Conway. Mariota makes a crashing linebacker miss and “Aloha means touchdown:”
On this 22-yard td run by Kenjon Barner, late in the 4th quarter of a game Johnstone had played every snap, watch #64 Johnstone drive USC’s #56 Anthony Sarao out of the play as Barner cuts untouched off his right hip:
On this play, a 71-yard td run by Barner against Arizona State, Johnstone crashes down on a linebacker to spring the tailback for a big run: