Colorado School of Mines Tackle Wins Manheim Touchdown Club's Gene Upshaw Award 2023

Johnson and Upshaw Award

Offensive tackle Levi Johnson of Colorado School of Mines has been named the winner of the 2023 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award presented by the Manheim Touchdown Club.

Johnson is the first Oredigger to win the award as he has led his team to the NCAA Division II semifinals for a third consecutive year. Wingate defensive end Marquise Fleming was the runner-up in the voting with Slippery Rock offensive tackle Yuriy Hryckowian third. The Gene Upshaw Award, open to senior linemen on both sides of the ball, is voted on by the nation’s NCAA Division II sports information directors.

A right tackle, Johnson has started 37 consecutive games for Colorado School of Mines, a constant on their offensive line as the Orediggers have won three consecutive Super Region 4 titles and advanced to the 2022 national final. This season, he was a D2CCA First-Team All-SR4 and First-Team All-RMAC selection and a Preseason Elite 100 honoree. The Orediggers’ line helped power Mines to have the nation’s No.1 scoring offense of 50.5 points per game along with the No. 2 total offense, No. 6 passing offense, No. 12 rushing offense, and No. 11 in fewest tackles for loss allowed. Mines reached the No. 1 poll ranking for the first time in program history in 2023 as they are 13-0 heading into the national semifinals.

In 2022, Johnson protected the Harlon Hill Award winner John Matocha (also a 2023 finalist) to earn Don Hansen Honorable Mention All-America status, D2CCA First-Team All-Region, and First-Team All-RMAC; in 2021, he blocked for another Harlon Hill finalist in running back Michael Zeman. Mines is 32-5 since 2021 with Johnson as a starter.

The award is named in honor of the late Mr. Upshaw, who was not only an All-Pro lineman for the Oakland Raiders, but later served as the executive director of the NFL Players Association for 25 years. Upshaw, a former standout offensive lineman at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M Kingsville), was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 in his first year of eligibility. The award is presented annually by the Manheim Touchdown Club.

Since the establishment of the award in 2004, Johnson is the seventh offensive tackle to win the honor and 10th offensive lineman overall. He is the first Super Region 4 winner since Angelo State’s Markus Jones in 2018.

2023 Gene Upshaw Award Final Balloting

  1. Levi Johnson, OT, Colorado School of Mines
  2. Marquise Fleming, DE, Wingate
  3. Yuriy Hryckowian, OT, Slippery Rock
  4. Dakari Streeter, DE, Missouri Western
  5. Christian McCarroll, DE, Grand Valley State
  6. Ty Cobb, OT, Bemidji State
  7. Loobert Denelus, DE/DT, Benedict
  8. Shane Bumgardner, C, Tiffin

Previous Award Winners

  • 2022 - Caleb Murphy, Ferris State
  • 2021 - Dylan Pasquali, Ferris State
  • 2019 - Austin Edwards, Ferris State
  • 2018 - Markus Jones, Angelo State
  • 2017 - Marcus Martin, Slippery Rock
  • 2016 - Jordan Morgan, Kutztown
  • 2015 - Matt Judon, Grand Valley State
  • 2014 - Darius Allen, Colorado State-Pueblo
  • 2013 - Darius Allen, Colorado State-Pueblo
  • 2012 - Garth Heikkinen, Minnesota-Duluth
  • 2011 - Joe Long, Wayne State
  • 2010 - Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock
  • 2009 - Ben Staggs, West Liberty
  • 2008 - Sam Collins, Abilene Christian
  • 2007 - Brandon Barnes, Grand Valley State
  • 2006 - Mike McFadden, Grand Valley State
  • 2005 - Mike McFadden, Grand Valley State
  • 2004 - Nathan Baker, Pittsburg State

2022 Upshaw Award

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Upshaw Award finalists
Gene Upshaw photos