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Charley Johnson to assume new position at New Mexico State University

Charles "Charley" Johnson, a former New Mexico State University football star who played in the NFL for 15 years, has assumed the new position of assistant to the president for athletic progress.

, who is one of only a handful of NFL players ever to earn a doctorate, had been serving as head of the Chemical Engineering Department at NMSU.

In his new position, Johnson will be responsible for finding ways in which the NMSU President's Office can have a maximum impact on student athletes and coaches. He also will be responsible for helping the Alumni Office organize alumni support for athletics.

"NMSU athletics is moving up," said President Michael Martin. "I want to make sure the central administration is as helpful as possible. Charley is too valuable a resource not to use."

A native of Big Spring, Texas, Johnson transferred to NMSU to play basketball, but was promised the opportunity to try out for the football team. In 1958, he was named the starting quarterback under newly hired Coach Warren Woodson.

His college football career included two consecutive Sun Bowl victories and an undefeated 11-0 record in 1960. During the three years Johnson was on the team, the Aggies recorded 23 wins and nine losses. His jersey, No. 33, is the only number ever retired in more than 105 years of New Mexico Aggie football.

Johnson graduated from NMSU in the spring of 1961 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. After graduation, he and his wife, Barbara, moved to St. Louis so he could attend the St. Louis Cardinals' training camp.

Johnson played 15 years as quarterback for the Cardinals, the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) and the Denver Broncos.

While playing professional football and serving a brief stint in the Army, Johnson earned his master's and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis.

After retiring from professional football in 1975, Johnson helped start several firms and then started his own company in 1981. Johnson Compression Services, which closed in 2003, sold and leased gas compressor systems to natural gas pipeline and processing companies in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Johnson returned to NMSU in the spring of 2000 to become head of the Chemical Engineering Department.

Martha Mitchell, an associate professor of chemical engineering, has been named interim head of the Chemical Engineering Department. Johnson will continue his teaching responsibilities in the department.

"This is a dream job," Johnson said. "I get to maintain a presence in academia and still contribute to the athletic side of the university."