Brett Johnson, Cal’s best defensive lineman, will miss the 2021 football season after suffering a broken hip in a car accident, the athletic department announced on Wednesday.
Johnson is expected to make a full recovery after what the school labeled successful surgery and he will have three years of eligibility remaining, starting in 2022.
Without question, Johnson is one of the Bears' most important players.
"While we will certainly miss Brett on the field this coming season, the most important thing right now is that he focus on his overall health and well-being," Wilcox said in a statement. "As his teammates and coaches, we will help him through this difficult time. When he is ready to return to the field, we will welcome him with open arms.”
No information was made available on when or where the accident took place or any other details involved with the incident.
Johnson, who has played in all 17 games of his career with 13 starts, expressed his eagerness to return a year from now.
"I appreciate all of the support I have received from my family, friends, teammates, coaches and so many others since the accident," Johnson said. "I am looking forward to making a full recovery and getting back on the field in 2022.”
Johnson was projected as a starting defensive end next fall, a spot that will now be open to the likes of sophomores Ethan Saunders and Stanley McKenzie. Incoming freshman Akili Calhoun, a top prospect, also will get the chance to compete for a spot in the rotation.
The Bears expected to be somewhat deeper along the D-line in 2021 after having manpower issues there last season. The loss of Johnson for the season won’t help that quest.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound native of Phoenix is coming off his sophomore season last fall when he played both inside and at end on the Bears’ defensive line. In Cal’s four-game 2020 season, shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson started every game and tied for third on the team with 20 tackles. He had 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
As a freshman in 2019, Johnson was named third-team Freshman All-American and third-team All-Pac-12 honors from Pro Football Focus as a when he started nine games at nose guard and had 26 tackles, with 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Cover photo of Brett Johnson by Al Sermeno, KLC fotos
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo