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Top Ten Players of The Mike Price Era: #3 Johnnie Lee Higgins

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The electrifying, speedy, and the ever so smooth Johnnie Lee Higgins is third in our countdown.

Jed Jacobsohn

UTEP's all-time leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns is not only the third best player of the Mike Price era, but was the best receiver to ever play under the Sun Bowl lights (IMO).

Johnnie Lee Higgins was an AP All-American, and First Team All C-USA honoree in 2006 after his 82 catches, 1,319 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns during his senior year, solidifying his mark as one of the premier skill players in the nation at the time.

Higgins started making noise in 2004 earning second team All-WAC honors while racking up a team high 700 yards receiving, and averaging a second best in school history average of 20.6 yards a catch. He also had 14 catches of 20 yards or more, while adding 310 kickoff yards with a 22.1 yard per return average.

Also in 2004 Higgins caught the second longest pass in school history; a 91 yard grab against Fresno State, the record is 92 yards set back in 1965.  The first glimpse that Higgins showed he would be something special was when he took a jail break screen 87 yards on a 3rd and 23 with less than a minute left in the game that set up a TD run as a freshman in 2003 against Louisiana Tech.

In UTEP's first C-USA season in 2005, Higgins amassed 1,468 all-purpose yards, hauled in nine touchdown passes, and 35 of his 49 catches resulted in first downs.

The 4,745 all-purpose yards he gained over his UTEP career ranks second in school history behind TPOMPE member #6 Howard Jackson.  131 of his 190 career catches were good for first downs, he also had at least two catches in 31 of his 36 career games.

During 2006 Higgins had some huge, huge games including that memorable 7 catch, 223 yard performance against NMSU, he had touchdowns of 73, 31, and 6 yards against the Aggies that night.

The 2006 C-USA special teams player of the year set conference records in punt return average bringing boots back 23.4 yards per return, while also marking the third best all-purpose yard season in school history with 1,873 all-purpose yards in 2006.

Higgins finished 10 receptions shy of the school mark set by Lee Mays, his 210 points scored was good for fourth in school history, and is also ranked third in school history with eleven career 100 yard receiving games.  He also owns the school record for receptions in a season for the 82 he grabbed in 2006.

After running a 4.43 40-yard dash at the 2007 NFL Combine, my Oakland Raiders drafted Higgins in the third round of the 2007 Draft.

Higgins appeared in all sixteen games for the Raidaaas during his rookie season with two starts at receiver, he was the primary, and starting punt returner as well.

His best NFL receiving season was in 2008 where he had 336 receiving yards on 22 catches including a 84 yard touchdown reception. (For the record JaMarcus Russell threw that pass)

Higgins played four years in Oakland, finishing his career with 779 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns, he also averaged 8.5 yards per punt return, taking three back to the house.

I had the privilege to watch both Lee Mays and Johnnie Lee Higgins play so I leave you with following poll question, and hopefully a heated but civil debate about who was the GOAT.