CLEMSON, S.C. — Former Clemson fullback Tracy Johnson, a two-time honorable mention All-American who was a mainstay on three ACC Championship teams in the 1980s, passed away on Friday, April 7 following a battle with cancer. He was 56 years old.
Johnson was the starting fullback for Head Coach Danny Ford’s ACC title teams in 1987 and 1988, finishing both years with a 10-2 record and a top 10 national ranking in either the UPI or AP polls. He was also a key reserve on Clemson’s 1986 ACC Championship team that finished in the top 20.
Johnson is regarded as one of the top combination runners and blockers from the running back position in school history. During his Clemson career, he gained 1,579 yards and scored 23 touchdowns. He was also credited with 180 career knockdown blocks, most on record by a Clemson running back. One of the top short-yardage runners in school history, he converted a first down on third or fourth downs with fewer than two yards to go 50 times in 57 career opportunities.
One of Johnson’s top career games took place in the 1988 Citrus Bowl when he rushed for 88 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns against Penn State. He and Travis Etienne remain the only Clemson players to score three touchdowns in a bowl game. The native of Kannapolis, N.C. also had a career-best 124 yards on 25 carries and had 11 knockdown blocks in a victory at North Carolina in 1987.
Johnson was named an honorable mention All-American in 1987 when he had a career-high 557 yards and scored nine touchdowns. He led the ACC in rushing touchdowns that year and ranked second in total touchdowns. As a senior in 1988, he was again an honorable mention All-American by Football News after gaining 441 yards and scoring eight touchdowns.
Johnson was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the 10th round of the 1989 NFL Draft. He played 121 NFL games for four different franchises over eight seasons with the Oilers (1989), Falcons (1990-91), Seahawks (1992-95) and Buccaneers (1996). His 121 NFL games rank third most among former Clemson running backs. He scored the only touchdown for the Falcons against Washington in a 1991 playoff game.
Johnson is survived by his wife, Stephanie, his four sons: Jalen (Jami), Myles, Devan and Dashie, and twin daughters Willow and Winter; and two grandchildren, Tyler and Jadyn. Tracy is also survived by his brothers Byron, Timothy (Martha) and Terrence.
A memorial celebrating Johnson’s life is planned for the weekend of April 29-30 with an open house at the home of Tracy and Stephanie in Duluth, Ga. with a service to take place on April 30.