Colby Yates mentioned Cody Johnson when talking about the
Touring Pro Division events this past summer. Cord McCoy was
impressed as well and Shane Proctor said, "The kid is talented and
he's going to show some people what's up."
Johnson, 19, will make his Built Ford Tough Series debut this
weekend in Tulsa, Okla.
He was highly touted a year ago coming out of high school and
said a major difference between then and now is that he feels
confident. According to Johnson, a year ago, he would ride his long
round bulls, but would get "nervous and pressed up" when it came
time for the short round.
"This year I'm just relaxing," he said, last weekend at a
Touring Pro Division event in Molalla, Ore., "taking my time and
not thinking about anything. I'm just worried about riding one bull
at a time."
And he ride he has.
Johnson won a pair of TPD events at the start of the summer run,
including a first and second place finish in Gonzales, Texas. He
recently finished first for a third time in Livingston, Mont., and
had four other Top 5 finishes in the past few weeks.
"It's been good," he said.
Johnson later added, "I know I have the ability and can do it.
Now it's just a matter of doing it and putting it to work. I'm very
thankful and I've been blessed."
According to the veteran riders there are several young riders
who have made their presence felt this summer. Chris Lowe won in
Redding, Calif., but Johnson's success for the past three months
has undoubtedly been the most impressive.
Luke Snyder took the summer off, but even the Missouri native
heard about the youngster from Kaufman, Texas.
"He came up to me (in Molalla)," Johnson recalled, "and said, 'I
heard you been kicking butt everywhere.' I said, 'Yes sir. I'm
trying to.' That was kind of cool, him coming up to me. I had never
even met him before, so I thought that was pretty cool."
He said it wasn't until a couple weeks ago that it occurred to
him how good of a summer he's put together. "I thought to myself,"
Johnson said, "I've been doing this for about 10 weeks
Johnson followed in his father's footsteps.
Clay Johnson rode saddle bronc, bareback, bulls and still team
ropes. His mother, Tonya Long, ran barrels and a few uncles own
ranches in East Texas.
He started out mutton busting at the age of three. "I had no
idea what I was doing," he said, "and I just started spurring both
feet right out of the gate." While he didn't compete on his high
school rodeo team, he won or finished in the Top 5 of the standings
for all the youth organizations he rode in through the years.
At 15, he began riding at open bull riding events and was
already competing against some pro riders from the PBR.
He was a virtual unknown then, but that is no longer the
Johnson admitted that knowing top-ranked riders are watching and
waiting for him puts some pressure on him to performance
consistently, but it's also been a source of sustained confidence
that has helped him to get to where he's at.
Though he's known for some time that he would be in Tulsa, this
weekend, he said he's thought more about being in Las Vegas then he
He's currently ranked 41st in the qualifier standings--six spots
outside of the World Finals draw--with more than $32,000 in
"My No. 1 goal is to make the Finals," said Johnson, who is
equally focused on staying positive, "so I can be in the first
(draw) for the Built Ford Tough next year and get a good start at
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.