Johns grew up in Birmingham and played quarterback for Shorty White's Banks High School team. He was leaning toward signing with Auburn, but never got a firm offer, and instead headed for Tuscaloosa. With the Tide already loaded at quarterback, he switched to defense. He did not play in his freshman year, but started for the 1965 team that successfully defended its national title.
In the 1966 season, Johns emerged as a star with seven interceptions, including three in the 1966 Sugar Bowl to cap an undefeated season. The AP and UPI voters, however, elevated Notre Dame as their consensus champion. The 1967 team had less success, but Johns again excelled. He was named a Playboy All-American and was picked in the 12th round (320th overall) of the 1968 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He decided against fighting for a roster spot and pursued a career in coaching instead.
Johns worked as an assistant coach at Florida State University, the University of Eastern Kentucky, University of South Carolina, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Valdosta State College and the University of North Alabama before landing the head coaching job at West Alabama.
The Tide's spring award for most improved defensive back is named for Johns. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. He and his wife, Karen, a softball coach at Mississippi State University, have one daughter, Kaci.
- McCarter, Mark (May 22, 2010) "THE Bobby Johns enters Hall tonight." Huntsville Times
- Segrest, Doug (May 23, 2010) "Johns started 33-year coaching career after turning down Chiefs." Birmingham News
- Goodbread, Chase (May 24, 2010) "Johns became one of UA's best defenders." Tuscaloosa News