Arrow-right Camera

Color Scheme

Subscribe now
University of Washington Huskies Football

UW football stars Rome Odunze and Dillon Johnson declare for NFL draft

Washington receiver Rome Odunze gains 9 yards against Michigan during the national championship Jan. 8 in Houston.  (Jennifer Buchanan/Seattle Times)
By Shane Lantz Seattle Times

Two more Washington Husky football stars are leaving for the NFL draft, as wide receiver Rome Odunze and running back Dillon Johnson both announced their departures to ESPN’s Pete Thamel on Friday.

Odunze and Johnson are each leaving with one season of eligibility remaining, and both were key pieces in UW’s explosive offense this past season.

Odunze was one of the most dominant wide receivers in all of college football and is projected to be a high first-round pick after breaking Reggie Williams’ UW single season receiving yards record in 2023.

Odunze was the third Huskies receiver and fifth UW player overall to announce his departure in the past week, with Johnson becoming the sixth to declare just a short while later. On Tuesday, Ja’Lynn Polk announced his decision to declare for the draft, with left tackle Troy Fautanu, wide receiver Jalen McMillan, and edge rusher Bralen Trice all following suit on Wednesday.

Odunze came to Washington after a sparkling prep career at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. He was named Nevada’s Gatorade Player of the Year and Maxpreps Player of the Year as a senior in 2019, and played four games for UW in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

He caught 41 passes for 415 as a freshman in 2021, before becoming a national star with his breakout 2022 season. Odunze caught 75 passes for 1,145 yards as a sophomore and was named a First Team All-American.

He then topped those numbers with 92 catches for 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2023, as he was one of the main cogs of UW’s explosive offense that powered the team to the national championship game. Odunze had 100 or more receiving yards in 10 of UW’s 15 games this season.

Despite suffering a punctured lung in the Huskies’ win over Arizona on September 30, Odunze returned in time for the highly anticipated game against Oregon, and caught eight passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

Odunze was again named a First Team All-American, as well as a finalist for the Fred ​​Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding wide receiver.

Odunze is the No. 7 ranked NFL prospect on Pro Football Focus’ NFL Draft “Big Board”, and is ranked as the No. 5 player in the draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. He is expected to be the second wide receiver chosen, behind Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison, Jr.

Johnson, meanwhile, transferred to UW befor the 2023 season after spending his first three seasons at Mississippi State, stepping into the Huskies’ starting running back role this season when projected starter Cameron Davis went down with a season-ending injury in fall camp.

Johnson flourished as the starter, racking up 1,195 rushing yards on 233 carries with 16 touchdowns, while also catching 24 receptions for 190 yards.

Johnson had four games with over 100 rushing yards this season, including a season-high 256 yards and four touchdowns against USC and a dominant 152 yard effort in the Pac-12 title game against Oregon.

Johnson carried the ball 11 times for 49 yards before going down a right foot injury in the final minutes of UW’s Sugar Bowl win over Texas, but returned for the championship game against Michigan, where he rushed for 33 yards on 11 carries in the Huskies’ 34-13 loss. Along with the foot injury, Johnson played the title game with a ruptured bursa in his left knee.

For his efforts, Johnson was named to the All Pac-12 Second Team. His departure leaves Davis and Will Nixon as the Huskies’ top running backs headed into 2024.

Johnson is projected to be a fifth-round pick by the website NFL Mock Draft Database.