National Championship Injury Report: Will Dillon Johnson Play vs. Michigan?

    Washington RB Dillon Johnson re-aggravated a lower leg injury against Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Find out if he will be ready for the national championship game.

    When Washington RB Dillon Johnson left the Sugar Bowl against Texas in the fourth quarter, you could hear the joint intake of breath from the Huskies sideline. Johnson had the best year of his career in 2023 and has been a consistent and reliable weapon for Washington.

    However, there seems to be good news on the injury front for Dillon Johnson as he looks to help drive Washington to a national title.

    Will Dillon Johnson Miss The National Championship Game?

    Johnson is expected to play in the national championship game on Monday, January 8, against Michigan. Despite re-aggravating an injury he has been fighting through in recent months, Washington is optimistic that Johnson will start their biggest game of the season.

    Johnson was a huge factor in the 37-31 semifinal victory over the Longhorns, rushing for 49 yards and scoring two touchdowns. The initial injury update looked serious, but the scare to Johnson’s availability seems to have passed.

    MORE: Washington Huskies Playoff History

    During Media Day on Saturday, Jan. 6, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported after speaking to Johnson that, “[Johnson] said he “doubts” he’ll be 100 percent.”

    Johnson also said “It’s all good. I’ll be ready to rock and roll and give whatever my team needs. I’ll be ready to do it.”

    It had been trending toward Johnson playing in the championship game since Monday, when Offensive Coordinator Ryan Grubb told The Seattle Times, “We do expect him to play. X-rays that were taken at the Superdome were negative.”

    Washington HC Kalen DeBoer spoke to the media on Wednesday, saying, “My thoughts are that he’ll be ready to go. Obviously, it’s a quick week, a quick turnaround, seven days to get ready again. We’ll be smart with how we prepare. As long as everything came out all right with everything, he was going to do everything he could to be on that football field next Monday.”

    The star running back has been playing through a foot/lower leg injury for weeks, and DeBoer shared that “It’s just something he’s been working through for a couple of months now.” Luckily for Washington, the re-aggravation of the injury has not been significant enough to keep him out.

    DeBoer said, “He played through it. There’s nothing above and beyond what’s happened in the past. Just kind of throughout the game he’ll reaggravate it, shake it off, and go back out and play. My thoughts are he’ll be ready to go.”

    Even not at 100%, it is a significant boost to the Huskies that Johnson is available, as he has been a key weapon of the Washington offense. The passing attack led by QB Michael Penix and WRs Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk get the attention, but the emergence of Johnson, since he transferred in from Mississippi State in 2023, has led the Huskies offense to take a balanced approach.

    So far this season, Johnson has rushed for 1,162 yards and 16 touchdowns. The next top-performing running back on the roster is Will Nixon, who only has 194 rushing yards and one touchdown.

    If Johnson suddenly becomes unavailable for the national championship game or has to leave early, it would be a big loss and Washington head coach DeBoer agrees.

    “I don’t think I’d be able to sell it any other way,” DeBoer said. “But we have other guys that are ready to go if he’s not able to step out there, but I know Dillon’s going to do everything he can because he’s put his heart and soul into this season, this team all year long.”

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