(Updated on March 8, 2023, to include video of Dr. Charley Johnson’s career)
New Mexico State University recently announced that former Big Red quarterback Dr. Charley Johnson is this year’s recipient of the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service.
Johnson is one of eight NMSU alumni being honored at the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards Celebration on October 21st. They will also be recognized at the homecoming football game against San Jose State on October 22nd at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Honorees are selected by the Alumni Association Awards Committee based on personal accomplishment, professional achievement, and charitable service.
“This year’s Distinguished Alumni stand for the best of the best, contributing greatly to their career fields, giving back to society and representing NMSU boldly and brilliantly along the way,” said Derek Dictson, President, NMSU Foundation.
Johnson quarterbacked the Aggies to two winning appearances in the Sun Bowl in 1959 and 1960 and was the first two-time C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player. After graduating in 1961, he was selected by the Cardinals in the 10th round of the NFL draft. The Big Spring, Texas native took over as starter in his second season and led the Big Red to a 30-15-3 record from 1963-1966. He led the NFL in completions (223), attempts (420), and yards (3,045) in 1964. He also led the NFL in fourth quarter comebacks in 1966 and 1968 and twice threw six touchdowns in a game during his nine year career with the Cardinals. He was traded to the Houston Oilers in 1970 and finished his career in Denver where he was inducted into their Ring of Honor in 1986. See Charley’s NFL statistics.
Johnson earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Washington University in St. Louis while playing for the Cardinals and after serving two years in the Army.
He returned to his alma mater in 2000 to be head of the Chemical Engineering department. He also served as acting head football coach of the Aggies in 2009. A past winner of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Johnson’s support for NMSU includes being a mentor and coach, plus decades of charitable giving. He helped establish the Warren B. Woodson Endowed Fund in Athletics in 2003.
Great post and interview.
Thanks for the tribute to a truly accomplished individual. I am so impressed by what he achieved in academics as well as athletics, and I was especially heartened by his Endowed Fund to help others.
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Thanks Mark. Charley was a great player and person who many don’t remember. His story needs to continue to be told.
Yes, exactly! I’m very prejudiced where Charley is concerned, and not ashamed to admit it. I would have loved to have met him, but… 😦
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