CHATTANOOGA (UTC) -- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestler Demetrius Johnson was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA this week.
Johnson, a two-time Southern Conference Champion, was the preseason favorite to win the 125-pound title in 2012 before reinjuring his right knee.
"I am pretty ecstatic about the news," said Johnson, a native of Memphis. "I thought I had a 50/50 chance at getting the extra year, and then I got antsy waiting to hear from the NCAA.
"I am so pumped right not that I want to start training today, but I am going to have to take it slow to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Johnson was expected to compete as a true freshman in 2007-08, but a bout with Mono forced him to redshirt. He made the SoCon All-Freshman team in 2008-09 when he went 11-8 and won his first SoCon title at 125 pounds. He went on to earn All-SoCon honors in 2009-10 as a sophomore, posting a 20-8 record at 125.
It was during the summer of 2010 that Johnson first injured his right knee. That cost him most of his junior season, but he made it back for the majority of the conference slate. Bumping up to 133 pounds, he went 3-1 in league matches and won his second SoCon trophy. He also made his second appearance at the NCAA Tournament in 2011.
Heading into the 2011-12 campaign, Johnson was back at 125 where he was a preseason All-SoCon pick. He reinjured his right knee just prior to the season-opener against Old Dominion. He tried to stay on the mat, posting a big win in the Mocs 22-15 upset over No. 12 Stanford on Nov. 20. However, that would be his only appearance of the season.
"Demetrius is definitely a proven commodity on the mat and in the classroom," said head coach Heath Eslinger. "He is definitely someone that can make it to the podium in March. We are thankful he is getting another opportunity since last season was cut short."
A two-time Academic All-NWCA and Academic All-SoCon honoree, Johnson has been on the Dean's List every semester of his collegiate career. He earned his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice in May of 2011 and is currently working on a Master's degree in the same major. He has a 37-19 overall record, including an 11-2 mark in SoCon regular season matches.
"I think this is a great opportunity for me to come back and be a leader for this team," stated Johnson. "We had a good year last year and we have a great coaching staff in place. It really hasn't sunk in yet, but once we start training, I will be ready to go."
Information provided by UTC Sports Information and GoMocs.com.