Former UNC Football Player leading NFL team to new heights, NFC Championship

A former backup quarterback for the UNC Football program is now leading one of the NFL's best offenses to new heights as they prepare for the NFC Championship.

Mike Mulholland/GettyImages

If you have followed the NFL postseason and the season the Detroit Lions are having, then you have probably heard the name Ben Johnson. Johnson is in his fifth season with the Lions and in his second season as the offensive coordinator for the franchise. What you may not known is Johnson is also a former UNC Football player.

A North Carolina native from Asheville, Johnson walked on at the University of North Carolina as a backup quarterback from 2004 until 2006.

He never played a snap for the Tar Heels, but graduating from North Carolina with a degree in mathematics and computer science. Following his time on the team in Chapel Hill, he moved into coaching as a graduate assistant in 2009 with Boston College.

Johnson made the jump to the NFL in 2012 and has been climbing the ranks ever since, spending the last decade with the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions. He was hired by the Lions in 2019 to be the offensive quality control coach and was elevated to passing game coordinator by 2021.

In 2022, he became the full-time offensive coordinator under Dan Campbell. Johnson has produced back-to-back top-five NFL offenses in Detroit and has the Lions in the NFC Championship game, one game away from the Super Bowl, for just the second time ever.

In 2022, the Lions finished fourth in the NFL in Total Offense, averaging 380 yards per game and scoring 26.6 points per game. This season, they are averaging 394.8 yards per game and 27.1 points per game.

The Lions have a tall task in front of them as the No. 1 seed San Francisco 49ers and the NFL's 8th-best defense await on Sunday afternoon, but Johnson and the Lions hope to continue their success on the offensive side of the ball to send Detroit to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance.

If you are a Tar Heel fan looking for a team to pull for in the NFL playoffs, the Lions and Johnson would be a great option. You can catch the former UNC Football quarterback roaming the sidelines and scheming up the Lions' offense on Sunday evening at 6:30 PM on FOX with a trip to Super Bowl LVIII on the line.

Next. The 2024 schedule for the UNC football program has been released. The 2024 schedule for the UNC football program has been released. dark