Duquesne, ex-Florida player Chris Johnson dies at age 22

Chris Johnson made big plays for Florida on special teams in 2011 and 2012. (USATSI)
Chris Johnson made big plays for Florida on special teams in 2011 and 2012. (USATSI)

Former Florida Gators special teams standout and Duquesne defensive back Chris Johnson was found dead Friday morning, three months after the completion of his senior season with the Dukes. He was 22.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sunday the Allegheny (Pa.) County medical examiner's office determined Johnson had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Everyone associated with the Duquesne football program is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Chris," Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt said in a statement. "Chris was a passionate football player who was also a great teammate, who was loved by many. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chris’ family at this difficult time.”

An Ocala, Fla. native, Johnson spent two seasons with Florida in 2011 and 2012, making a substantial impact on special teams while vying for playing time first at defensive back and then running back. He transferred to FCS Duquesne for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, totaling 104 tackles and two interceptions for the Dukes.

Nicknamed "Juice," Johnson was a star for Ocala's Trinity Catholic High School.

"I'm trying to peel it back as best I can," Justin Wentworth, Johnson's defensive coordinator at Trinity Catholic, told the Ocala Star-Banner. "Nobody will ever know. When I texted with him on Wednesday, it was all good. You wouldn't have known anything. You ask how everything's going. How's life? How are classes going?

"He said everything was going good -- typical upbeat, Juice stuff. Getting this news hurts deep. It's a knife to the heart." 

Our Latest Stories