To appreciate the game of football, you must understand that games are won and lost in the trenches. Defensive and offensive linemen wage a fierce campaign against one another in an effort to dominate the line of scrimmage and control the flow of the game. For the defensive linemen, their task is to charge headfirst at offensive linemen who commonly weigh in excess of 300 pounds. When they are able to escape the clutches of the mammoth sized men on the line, these hard-nosed players then are trained to track down the wily running backs and quarterbacks in the backfield. Their time in the spotlight is when they make one of the most fun plays to watch in football: the quarterback sack. In 1999, Luke Johnson became the school's all-time leader in career sacks as well as the record holder for most sacks in a game and a season. For his efforts, Johnson earned his place at No. 68 in our countdown of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
Before Luke Johnson arrived on campus as a transfer from the Air Force Academy in 1996, the school career sack record was 19, held by Anthony Beverly who was a force for the Pony Express in the early eighties. Over the course of the next three seasons, Johnson amassed 22.5 sacks, including 11.5 in his senior season, a school record. To put Johnson's achievement into perspective, former NFL great and SMU standout Jerry Ball totaled 17 career sacks, 5.5 less than Johnson.
Johnson's ability to get to the quarterback was best on display in a 1999 game at UTEP in which he set the school record for sacks in a game with four. Johnson ran down Miners' quarterbacks Jay Stuckey and Rocky Perez so often that UTEP began using double and even triple-teams to stop him. In conjunction with his four sacks, Johnson also racked up 10 tackles, six for 44 yards in losses. Two weeks later, Johnson was credited with 1.5 sacks against Cal St. Northridge, breaking the school's all-time sack record.
On the field, Johnson was SMU's Most Valuable Defensive Player in 1997, and was a two-time All-WAC selection at defensive tackle. Off the field, Johnson was on the SMU Honor Roll (3.5 GPA of higher) and volunteered as a tutor and mentor for inner-city elementary school children. For his hard-nosed style of football, SMU's sack king, Luke Johnson, takes his place among the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.