Steelers sign Anthony Johnson to Reserve/Future contract

Former UB star will compete for a spot on the 53-man roster

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Former UB football wide receiver Anthony Johnson signed to a Reserve/Future contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team announced Wednesday.

Johnson was a two-time first-team All-MAC selection. He transferred to Buffalo from Iowa Western Community College, where he developed a reputation as “a big, possession target from the slot.” In two years, he rewrote the school record books, earning a spot on our UB football all-decade team and gaining interest from NFL executives.

After redshirting in 2016, Johnson emerged as a dominant force on the outside, hauling in 76 passes for 1,356 yards and 14 touchdowns. He ranked No. 2 in the nation in receiving yards per game. Prior to the 2018 season, he was named to the Maxwell and Biletnikoff Award watch lists.

In 2018, he again played in all 12 contests, racking up 1,011 yards and 11 touchdowns as he helped the Bulls advance to the MAC championship game. He was then invited to the Senior Bowl.

Johnson seemed destined to follow his cousins — former Bills safety Jonathan Meeks, three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph — to the NFL. 

But the Bulls were surprisingly shut out of the draft, so Johnson was forced to sign with Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent. Bulls head coach Lance Leipold felt that Johnson was slighted because of his status as a small-school graduate.

He was released in final roster cuts. In September, he signed to the Chargers practice squad, where he stayed for the remainder of the season.

Johnson signed with the Steelers Wednesday to a Futures/Reserve contract. This means that he can be added to the team’s roster when it expands from 53 to 90 players on Mar. 18. He is eligible to participate in offseason workouts, minicamps and OTAs.

He is expected to compete for a spot on a depleted Steelers wide receiver corps.

Justin Weiss is a senior sports editor and can be reached at justin.weiss@ubspectrum.com

JUSTIN WEISS


Justin Weiss is an asst. sports editor at The Spectrum