Gartrell Johnson is a Charger

Gartrell Johnson’s plane rides home just got a lot farther.

Johnson, CSU’s electric, dreadlocked running back, grew up in South Florida, spent all five of his college years at Colorado State, and now, after the San Diego Chargers made him a fourth-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft Sunday, will literally have the nation covered.

Ironically, San Diego drafted Johnson with a compensatory selection (134th overall) awarded to the Chargers in part due to the loss of RB Michael Turner, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with Atlanta prior to the 2008 season. Turner, who also starred at a non-BCS school and compares to Johnson in size and power-running style, backed up NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson prior to leaving for Atlanta.

Now, Johnson provides a unique complement to Tomlinson and sparkplug Darren Sproles, one of the league’s most exciting players, in the Chargers’ backfield. Johnson’s competition also includes Jacob Hester, who helped LSU to the 2007 national championship, and ninth-year NFL veteran Michael Bennett.

Johnson becomes the first Colorado State player drafted by San Diego since 1986, when the Chargers selected Terry Unrein in the third round (66th overall).