SEC's Top 25 Players: No. 8 A.J. Johnson
Published: Monday, July 7, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 6, 2014 at 11:14 p.m.
SENIOR LINEBACKER, 6-FOOT-2, 242 POUNDS, TENNESSEE
Why he's No. 9: There may be some hesitancy in putting Johnson high on this list because of his arrest for buying alcohol for a minor and resisting arrest in February. But that seems to be behind him.
Tennessee coaches were thrilled when he decided to return for his senior year, especially with a defense that lost four starting linemen. The feedback from the NFL wasn't great for Johnson, in part because he needs to work on his pass coverage.
But as a pure tackling machine, he's among the best in the country.
In the last two seasons, he has recorded 244 tackles and has 324 for his career.
Having a game with double-digit tackling totals is commonplace for Johnson, but he's going to need some help up front this year from a young Tennessee line.
During his career, he has 21.5 tackles for a loss, but only one sack. The Vols like to use him as a run-stopper who plays off blocks rather than a blitzer.
It will be an interesting year for Johnson, and sometimes players in their “contract years” take the next step. There's no reason to think that won't be the case here.