On the rise

Cody Johnson


  • Cody Johnson competes this weekend at a Touring Pro Division event in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Despite only competing in six BFTS events in 2012, Johnson qualified for his first trip to Las Vegas for the World Finals and finished the season ranked 37th in the world standings.
  • Johnson won his first career BFTS event in Springfield, Mo., and along with four TPD event wins, earned in excess of $88,000.

In This Article

FORT WORTH, Texas - This weekend Cody Johnson is headed down to the heart of Texas, where it all began for him last season.

The 19-year-old from Kaufman, Texas, won four Touring Pro Division events ― two of which were in San Antonio, Texas, including the annual Brent Thurman Invitational ― en route to riding his way onto the Built Ford Tough Series. He also won events in nearby Gonzales as well as Livingston, Mont.

Saturday night he'll be back in San Antonio, where he last won the Cowboy Dance Hall Finals, competing at one of two TPD events before heading to New York for the Monster Energy Invitational on Jan.  4.

"It really is where it all started," he said of this weekend's event. "It's what made my whole year and got me to the Finals. I'm really comfortable down there. I know everybody and all my friends are down there. Also, being a Top 35 guy last year, I'm confident going into the Touring Pro events. There's nothing that should throw me off at all."

The youngster competed in six BFTS events and was able to put it all together in Springfield, Mo., where he was the only rider to finish 5-for-5 and won the event.

Not only was it a three-day event, which shows consistency, but it took place in an area of the country in which he faced some of the rankest bulls. He scored 88.75 points on Josey Wales to tie for first in the first short round and then equaled his career-high of 88.75 points when he covered Whiskey's Rebel in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

The win coupled with his TPD success earned him his first trip to Las Vegas for the World Finals and a place in the Top 35 when the 2013 BFTS gets under way.

The right-hander, who finished 37th in the world standings despite not making his BFTS debut until two-thirds of the way through this past season, earned more than $88,000 and was among the top contenders for Rookie of the Year honors.

"Yeah, I'm confident," he said.

Looking back on 2012, Johnson said his biggest lesson competing among the top riders was to take it one bull at a time. He learned not to focus on the outcome and let the numbers take care of themselves.

"It's time to take care of business, and I'm just going to go and give it everything I have."

This year he plans to simply make the whistle.

He admitted that he went into last year thinking about winning every event instead of being focused on the next bull he faced.

Nevertheless, he had a noteworthy ― if not breakout ― season considering he didn't go to many PBR events when he first turned 18, and last year he didn't start going so until May. Yet, he accomplished all that he did in a span of less than six months.

In doing so, he earned the respect of veteran riders, who had great things to say about Johnson. Colby Yates, who retired earlier this year, remarked, "He's kicking all of our (butts)." 
However, promoter Bo Davis, who happens to be producing this weekend's event in San Antonio, was the first person to alert www.PBR.com to how well the youngster was doing.

With the prospect of a full season ahead, Johnson expectations are even greater.

The new point system, he said, will be beneficial to a rider like him, who enters TPD events every chance he gets. In fact, he's not only entered once this weekend, but he's the second alternate for a second entry if a spot in the draw were to open and eighth alternate for a third spot.

Later this month, the Fort Worth, Texas, event is considered two separate TPD events. He plans to enter on Friday and again on Saturday.

"Having a full year ahead of me, I'm excited about it," said Johnson, who expects to be a Top 5 rider.

"I'm going to try and get on as many as I can at every event I go to ―Touring Pro wise ― and get as many points racked up as I can. Last year, I entered every Touring Pro I went to (multiple) times and it paid off huge for me.

"It's time to take care of business, and I'm just going to go and give it everything I have."

Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.

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