In a position that rarely commands attention, center Bob Johnson left UT as one of the most decorated athletes in school history. Doug Dickey's first recruit struggled making snaps his first year after moving over from the tackle position, but rebounded to garner All-America status in 1966.
As captain of the 1967 Vols, Johnson lived up to his preseason hype by earning his second consecutive All-SEC and All-America nods with unanimous votes. Johnson was awarded the Jacobs Trophy, given to the SEC's best blocker, and The Birmingham Touchdown Club named him the SEC's Most Outstanding Lineman. In addition, Johnson finished sixth in the Heisman voting as a center.
Off the field, Johnson earned 1967 Academic All-America and was named the National Football Foundation's Scholar Athlete. Johnson spent his senior year as vice president of his class while majoring in industrial engineering.
After graduating, Johnson won the National Football Foundation Post-Graduate Scholarship to attend Harvard's School of Business. But Johnson stuck with his love and became the first draft choice of the expansion Cincinnati Bengals in 1968, the third pick overall. Johnson spent 12 seasons with the Bengals and served as captain each year with the exception of his last, when he came out of retirement to snap. His No. 54 is the only retired jersey in Bengals history.
Johnson was named to the 1960s All-SEC Team and the SEC Quarter Century Team in 1974. College Football Hall of Fame chapters in Cincinnati and East Tennessee gave Johnson the Distinguished American award. In 1993, he was one of six former players to earn the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.