Former Eastern Michigan University defensive back Johnny Sears is headed to the National Football League, signing a free-agent deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.
He joins the team after participating in the Bengals’ rookie minicamp as an unsigned tryout player. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Sears played one season with the Eagles in 2009 as their starting cornerback and primary kick returner, but missed the final three games with a hamstring injury.
It’s been a long journey for Sears, a 6-foot, 184-pound corner after he left the University of Michigan in September 2007 when the Associated Press reported he was dismissed from the team for undisclosed reasons.
The Edison High School (Fresno, Cal.) graduate returned to Fresno after his dismissal and joined the College of Sequoias junior college squad but didn’t play.
Sears was given another opportunity by the then freshly hired Ron English, the coach who recruited him at U-M when English was its defensive coordinator in 2006 and 2007.
“He’s the one that found me in little Fresno,” Sears said after a practice in September 2009. “[English] came to one of my track workouts and from then on he just made some things happen.”
Sears ranked seventh on the Eagles defense with 37 total tackles (23 solo), and he led the team with seven passes defensed. He also was the Eagles No. 1 kickoff returner with 33 returns for 755 yards (22.9-yard average; long of 53).