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Oregon’s DJ Johnson declares for 2023 NFL Draft, weeks after punching Oregon State fan on the field

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Oregon pass rusher DJ Johnson officially declared for the NFL Draft on Thursday, just weeks after he was caught on video punching an Oregon State fan on the field in what is now his final collegiate game. 

Johnson, who led the Ducks with six sacks this season, took to Twitter to post his announcement and officially confirm that he would be opting out of Oregon’s bowl game against North Carolina later this month to pursue his NFL career. 

Linebacker DJ Johnson, #2 of the Oregon Ducks, stands on the field against the Washington Huskies at Autzen Stadium on Nov. 12, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon.
(Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

“Thank you to Oregon and everyone who’s helped me get to where I am today,” he wrote in a tweet. “I’ll be entering my name into the NFL Draft. Truly Blessed for the opportunities coming.”

OREGON INVESTIGATING AFTER PLAYER PUNCHES OREGON STATE FAN FROM BEHIND FOLLOWING MAJOR UPSET 

Johnson made headlines for his performance on the field this season but came under fire last month when a video surfaced on social media that appeared to show the senior linebacker striking a fan in an Oregon State jersey from behind.  

The altercation followed the Ducks losing their place in the Pac-12 Championship game after blowing a 21-point lead in the third quarter, losing 38-34 to the No. 21 ranked Beavers.

Defensive back Jaydon Grant, #3 of the Oregon State Beavers, makes a tackle during the first half of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Reser Stadium on Nov. 26, 2022 in Corvallis, Oregon. 

Defensive back Jaydon Grant, #3 of the Oregon State Beavers, makes a tackle during the first half of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Reser Stadium on Nov. 26, 2022 in Corvallis, Oregon. 
(Ali Gradischer/Getty Images)

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Oregon said it was investigating the situation. On Sunday, head coach Dan Lanning said Johnson’s reaction was sparked by a “pretty extreme” comment that was made to him. 

“Taking a deeper dive into that situation, doing some investigating on our end and really on the other side through a few avenues, you realize that DJ was in a moment there that he certainly wishes he would’ve acted different,” Lanning said, via Oregon Live. “But something was said that was pretty extreme to him that some people might act in a similar fashion.”

DJ Johnson, #2 of the Oregon Ducks, reacts after sacking the quarterback against the California Golden Bears during the second quarter of an NCAA football game at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium on Oct. 29, 2022 in Berkeley, California.

DJ Johnson, #2 of the Oregon Ducks, reacts after sacking the quarterback against the California Golden Bears during the second quarter of an NCAA football game at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium on Oct. 29, 2022 in Berkeley, California.
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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He continued, “Certainly not condoning the behavior. I know DJ wishes he could have that moment back. It was an intense situation. But those things happen at times and I know that he would handle it different given the opportunity.” 

Oregon and North Carolina will meet in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 at Petco Park, the first football game ever played at the downtown home of baseball’s San Diego Padres. It will also be the first Holiday Bowl since 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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