SAN JOSE -- Coach Mike MacIntyre feels sorry for opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks who have to deal with San Jose State senior defensive end Travis Johnson.
"He's just really, really good," MacIntyre said. "I would be worried if I was a quarterback coming into a game knowing where he is."
Does Johnson, a senior who is the NCAA's active career leader in sacks with 23, feel the same way?
"No. They chose to play," Johnson said. "I just try to play my hardest, and if I get the sacks and beat their tackle, they'll have to prepare for somebody else next week."
Johnson tied a school record with four sacks Saturday in a 45-13 win over UC Davis. It was his second career four-sack game and left him seven behind all-time San Jose State sack leader Lyneil Mayo.
Johnson's six tackles for loss against Davis also tied a school and Western Athletic Conference record.
The performance earned Johnson the WAC's Defensive Player of the Week award for the second time in his career.
Johnson, whose 35 career tackles for loss place him fifth in school history and seven behind Jarron Gilbert's record of 42, entered this season with high expectations after being named the WAC's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Four years ago, the expectations were a lot less. San Jose State was Johnson's only major offer, and he chose the Spartans over UC Davis and Sacramento State, both Football Championship Subdivision (formerly
"I didn't know a lot about college recruiting," said Johnson, a graduate of The King's Academy in Sunnyvale. "It just kind of came down to I wanted to play better teams. I had the chance to go D-I, and that's what I wanted to do."
Former SJSU coach Dick Tomey, who recruited Johnson, knew he was getting a quality player and an even better person.
"Probably one of the things that is the most useless is whether or not somebody is heavily recruited," Tomey said. "I saw a guy that first of all was a tremendous student and a tremendous person. He had a great motor, loved to play and seemed to be committed to doing what it took physically to get himself in position to compete."
The 6-foot-3, 244-pound Johnson has NFL aspirations. He plays defensive end in the Spartans' 4-3 alignment but is probably undersized for that position in the NFL, so a switch to outside linebacker could be in his future.
SJSU defensive line coach Jim Jeffcoat, who played 15 years with the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills as a defensive end, believes Johnson is a complete enough player to play in the NFL.
"What he does well, too, is he plays the run," Jeffcoat said. "I think he can play up or down. He can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3, depending on your style, because he's such an intelligent player, and he's athletic."
Johnson is confident he can play whatever position is needed to give himself a shot.
"I'm a pretty quick learner, I pick stuff up," said the three-time Academic All-WAC selection. "Outside linebacker or D-end or wherever I'm supposed to be, I believe I can do it."
Colorado State (1-1) at San Jose State (1-1), 5 p.m. No TV