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Outback Bowl MVP Tyler Johnson Post-Game Quotes

January 1, 2020

Outback Bowl: Auburn vs Minnesota
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Tyler Johnson
Minnesota Gophers
Minnesota 31, Auburn 24

MICHAEL STUTTS, CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER, BLOOMIN BRANDS: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to Tampa. Today we saw two incredible teams put on an incredible performance. One individual stood out. I'll end the suspense now and tell you that the MVP of the game is Tyler Johnson.

He's the pride of the North High School Polars, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. I'm proud to present the MVP trophy. Congratulations.

TYLER JOHNSON: Thank you.

Q. How does it feel, Tyler?
TYLER JOHNSON: It feels amazing to go out here with my brothers, my last collegiate game, to do what we love. We've been sharing memories all week, the entire year really. Each day after practice this week, we was always just talking about memories that just happened over the years.

To be able to go out here and play with them one last time, give it everything we got, is something that I'll definitely remember forever.

Q. When you snagged the pass in the end zone, did you think you might have been inbounds?
TYLER JOHNSON: I was hoping I landed inbounds. I knew I just needed to go up and make a play. Hats off to Coach Simon for calling that play, that we prepare for pretty much in every situation. We always do that each week because we never know when it's going to present itself.

It was on us to go out there and make a play. Hats off to the offensive line for going out there, having great protection for that play. Tanner put the ball where I could get it.

Q. Can you walk us through the second touchdown?
TYLER JOHNSON: Yeah, Coach Simon saw something that he liked. Basically the offensive line, it was on them to get Tanner some time back there. They did their job with that. Then it was on me to create separation. The rest is history.

I just knew when the ball was in the air I just wanted to still attack it because I didn't know where the defender was. After I caught it, I wanted to explode to the end zone.

Q. Talk about your time at Minnesota. From the outhouse to the penthouse.
TYLER JOHNSON: I would definitely say that throughout my life, it's pretty much how I've been living, coming from a big city, but a small school, then being able to transfer that over to here at the University of Minnesota was a total opposite. Just being around great guys for four years has definitely been something that has helped me push through and become a better man for the future.

So I'm just thankful for those guys right there.

Q. Coach talked about you coming back for your senior year. A lot of players don't play in their bowl game. Why did you?
TYLER JOHNSON: Because it was my last chance to go out there and give everything I got. To be able not to represent only myself but my family and my community, one last chance at the school that I decided to go to back four years ago.

Being able to do that, right away I knew I was going to play in this game, especially since it was one of best defensive programs in the country. I was looking forward to it. Just happy that we came out with the win.

Q. (On the impact Coach Fleck has had on his career.)
TYLER JOHNSON: Coach Fleck is a heck of a coach. Him being able to be around the receivers because he played receiver in the past, it's basically like having two coaches in one room, Coach Fleck and Coach Simon. If one doesn't say something, the other one will say it even better, something like that. Just being able to hear and be around him all the time, know and understand what he's doing and why he's doing it, has definitely been helpful.

Q. (On why an NFL team should draft him.)
TYLER JOHNSON: Hard worker, I love my community. I just love doing what I do. Something as simple as that. But I'm just thankful for every opportunity that I get. I'm going to continue to change my best each day.

Q. What do you think is in store for Minnesota in the future?
TYLER JOHNSON: It's definitely going in the right direction. Coach Fleck says it all the time, that this program is going up. As you can see today, it's definitely going in the right direction. Just having the right group of guys in the locker room is very important. Then everybody buying in, making their job very important, being selfless in this program.

Q. Was it worth it?
TYLER JOHNSON: Definitely, it was definitely worth it. The last bowl game last year, Coach Fleck sat me down in his office, we just talked, we just chatted. He said whatever I do, he respects my decision right there. So I went home, got on the phone, sent some texts out to see what everybody thinks, just to see.

I came up with the decision pretty close to whenever the decision had to be made. I made it public that I feel like this is the best decision for me.

As you fast forward the time right now, I still think it was the best decision for me. I got to come back, be the first in my family to get the degree. I'm setting the standard high for myself and my community. On top of that, I got to become a better football player as well. I knew coming back I had a lot to work on because nobody is perfect. I know there's always something I can work on each day.

The group of guys around me help me do that. I help them get better, they help me get better. We just learn together. We just go out there and always have fun doing what we do.

Q. (On his time with fellow wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Chris Autman-Bell.)
TYLER JOHNSON: Lifetime memory. They're my brothers for life. This whole team, everybody is my brother for life. Being around those guys pretty much every day, all the time, talking about anything, it just builds a strong bond. Then to carry it over on the football field, we just love watching each other make plays. That's something that we take pride in because we don't let our teammates down. On top of that, we don't want to let each other down as well. We love being close to each other, love doing the things we do for one another. It's just something that is very special.

Q. How have the last few months prepared you for the future?
TYLER JOHNSON: I'd say the last few months have prepared me by being close to my teammates. That is because you know something from the team perspective is very important, whether that's a practice or a lift, meeting, something like that. Being able to overly focus on the small things like that is something I'll take from the past going into the future.

Q. If there was a second MVP, would it be your offensive line?
TYLER JOHNSON: Absolutely, offensive line played amazing today. We joked about it during the week that they had a big challenge. They went out and played probably their best football of the season.

Hats off to them definitely. I'm going to definitely let each one of them hold this trophy to let them know they were the MVPs, as well.

Q. You saw the look on your fans' faces celebrating. What does it mean to give the fan base something to really go out with a bang for the new year?
TYLER JOHNSON: I'm glad you said something about the fans. The fans travel from the cold to the heat. I'm sure they were excited whenever they found out we was going to Tampa.

Just want them to know we're very thankful for them, thankful for their support. If they didn't show up, it would have looked like it was an Auburn home game.

We had a lot of fans out there that made us feel like we were at home. Their support has been crazy for us. This program is going in the right direction. Can't wait to see what they got.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports