The quarterback position may be known for attracting some of the brainiest players in football, but most of the men who line up under center in the NFL aren’t addressed as “doctor.”
Then again, Aggie legend Charley Johnson has never put much stock in doing one thing at a time.
The NMSU graduate not only became an NFL star and an NMSU professor, he also served his country in the Army. Johnson received an honorary degree from the university in May in recognition of these and other achievements throughout his life.
His college football career at NMSU included two consecutive Sun Bowl victories and an undefeated 11-0 record in 1960, the only NMSU football team in history to go undefeated.
After graduating from NMSU in 1961, he signed a contract with the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals. During his years in St. Louis, he also attended Washington University, earn ing master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering.
After two years of active duty, he returned to the NFL, where he played with the Cardinals, the Houston Oilers and the Denver Broncos, which he led to their first winning season. Johnson is among one of the most efficient quarterbacks in Broncos history and is in the Broncos Ring of Fame. He retired from professional football in 1975.
In 2000, he returned to NMSU as the Chemical Engineering department head, where he continued his teaching responsibilities until 2010. He’s helped coach the Aggies’ quarterbacks for a number of years and continues to support and inspire the team. He and some of his teammates established the Warren B. Woodson Endowed Fund in the Athletics Department to support the program and honor the coach who had made such an impact on their lives.
When asked what NMSU means to him, Johnson says, “It means a chance. A chance to improve academically, athletically and socially. I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today without NMSU. No way.”