Kiffin strikes again as 2011 LB Johnson commits to Vols

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin just won another battle in the recruiting war he declared on Georgia. And this time the Vols’ victory came less than an hour from Athens.

A.J. Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior linebacker from Gainesville, committed to the Vols on Wednesday, shortly after completing a practice attended by UT assistant coach Ed Orgeron. He attended the Tennessee-Georgia game in Knoxville as an unofficial visitor on Saturday.

Tennessee was the first school to offer the swift-footed junior last December. He said he grew up a Georgia Bulldogs’ fan and camped there this past summer but the Bulldogs never offered.

“I’m guessing they were just waiting,” said Johnson, who has 80 tackles so far this season. “They didn’t come after me like Tennessee did. If Georgia had offered me I probably would have committed right there.”

Johnson, who had at least 12 offers, also attended camps at  Florida, Clemson and Auburn. He can’t sign an actual scholarship until February of 2011. In the meantime he said Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin told him the Vols wouldn’t be upset if he took official visits as a senior next year.

He may, Johnson said, but there isn’t much of chance he’ll change his mind.

“It’s right,” he said. “It’s a school I’ve been wanting to go to. I wanted to commit while I was there this weekend but everybody told me to hold off. So today I just went ahead and did it.”

139 comments Add your comment

FalconUGAFan

October 14th, 2009
9:05 pm

Good luck AJ.

rational dawg

October 14th, 2009
9:07 pm

how can you lose a competition if you aren’t playing?! re-do your headline please. UGA didn’t lose this war to UT. UGA never offered. We wish him the best of luck though.

69 Dawg

October 14th, 2009
9:07 pm

Johnson is the real deal. Georgia’s going to miss him. The loss at Tennessee cost UGA more than we realize. All of Gainesville’s great playes are going to places other than Georgia. Looks like we are not just suffering with being outcoached this year … it’s now beginning to affect our recruiting. I’m very concerned with the entire atmosphere and attitude at UGA. I think changes are in the works but don’t know if Richt will follow through with needed changes. The mouth of the south (LK in Tenn) is already raiding Georgia. I look forward to the day when Martinez/Bobo will be replaced by real coaches with smarts, passion, ability and an unrelenting desire to win. Let’s get back to the “junkyard dawgs days”.

Henry

October 14th, 2009
9:11 pm

We’ve got so much talent we didn’t need him, so we didn’t offer. The problem is not shortage of talent.

Ted Striker

October 14th, 2009
9:11 pm

This UGA fan wishes Johnson the best of luck wherever he goes.

Gainesville Dawg

October 14th, 2009
9:11 pm

Agree with Georgia missing out on Sims, Jones, Johnson and the special players at Gainesville this year. This is the best team Gainesville has ever had and not a single one will be going to Georgia. I hate what’s going on at UGA. Mark Richt should have made changes after last season. I don’t expect major changes this year. I believe he’ll shuffle a few positions and keep all the coaches he now has. We’re going to face the same situation next year. Where are Georgia’s recruiters right now … trying to read up on coaching for dummys and see what changes and adjustments they might make. They certainly don’t seem to have much ability to make adjustments during a game.

Gainesville Dawg

October 14th, 2009
9:14 pm

Dear Henry … if we have so much talent why are we in such a mess? If Johnson didn’t have great talent why would LK offer his so early and why are so many schools offering. What about Blake Sims and Tra-ylor Jones? How many offers has Georgia made and how many comittmets does Georgia have for 2010?

Gainesville Dawg

October 14th, 2009
9:15 pm

make that 2011 (typing error).

Where is the talent?

October 14th, 2009
9:16 pm

Where is all of this talent outside of AJ Green? You UGA fans just can’t admit you suck this year. Man up people. You’ve got some good freshmen but I’m just not sure where all this talent is you keep referring to.. Just because they were 4 or 5 stars out of HS doesn’t mean they’re going to be the real deal in college.

quaildawg

October 14th, 2009
9:17 pm

Oh nooooooooooo The Sky is falling!!! The sky is falling!!!! UT gets a recruit out of GA. First time that has ever happened.It’s all sooooo dramatic. Maybe we should get Adams to shut the football program down and concentrate more on Gymnastics!!!
Give me a freakin brealk from all the doom and gloom. I have a feeling that the sun will come up tommorow and UGA will get their share of recruits.

UGA fans are just plain stupid

October 14th, 2009
9:18 pm

keep talking about all of this talent, but for the life of me I can’t think of any outside of AJ Green. Maybe a few freshmen look promising but where is all of the talent on D. It can’t all be coaching. Sorry, it just can’t.

realization setting in

October 14th, 2009
9:18 pm

UGA – Underachievers Go to Athens

Dawg gone disgusted

October 14th, 2009
9:19 pm

LK raids Georgia again. We’re not only going to see LK but UM, NS, SS, BP, making recruiting raids into Georgia. Who in the world would want to go to Athens and be coached by Willie and BooBoo? If CMR don’t wake up soon … we’re going to be the new South Carolina. I am so disappointed that so much talent can perform so poorly and have so little fire, passion and desire to win. What has happened to the Big Dawgs?

GAtlVolgrad2001

October 14th, 2009
9:25 pm

I love the VOLS and the fact that LK is recruiting the way he is from other states, his coaching “STAFF”, and their energy. I do wish the LK would keep his mouth closed at times and start proving more things on the field. With all that being said…..

GA’s M. Richt is a class act and has been at UGA for a while. I like UGA and hope that fans don’t rush to decisions that might cost the Bulldogs in the end!!!

BUT, I do know the frustrations that fans are feeling. I felt that way about Fulmer for about three years.

dawgdude

October 14th, 2009
9:26 pm

Once again our coaches wait and obviously miss out on a potential recruit. This kid is the real deal…what is going on with UGA? UT just got themselves another great GA player.

Red Elephant

October 14th, 2009
9:34 pm

I’ve watched AJ play at Gainesville City Park for several seasons. Talented guy. Solid player. But UGA was absolutely correct in their assessment of him.

hipdawg

October 14th, 2009
9:59 pm

Rubbing salt into the wound.I certainly hope some coaching changes will be made soon.

DecaturDawg

October 14th, 2009
10:05 pm

2011, really? The 2010 recruiting class can’t even sign yet. A lot will happen between now and then – not a big deal to me.

Big Bob

October 14th, 2009
10:16 pm

I am not worried about Johnson going to Tinasea. The Dawgs never offered him. Perhaps that should tell you something.

kcvol

October 14th, 2009
10:17 pm

Red Elephant

October 14th, 2009
9:34 pm

“I’ve watched AJ play at Gainesville City Park for several seasons. Talented guy. Solid player. But UGA was absolutely correct in their assessment of him.”

Wow, I would like to meet you Red Elephant. Monte Kiffin, with 30 years of NFL defensive experience and a couple Super Bowl rings, thought this guy was worth a scholarship offer, but you don’t believe he’s good enough for Georgia or, I assume, Alabama. You must know a ton about football players potential, Monte should get together with you and pick your brain.

VHCinAtlanta

October 14th, 2009
10:31 pm

Red Elephant…please tell me who GA or TN should be looking to sign? It sounds like you have a grip on all the upcoming players. I just know that you have all the video/stats/info on all the major college upcoming recruits. PLEASE do tell who UGA should be focusing on?….and when they commit to another school, like UT, that player is not good enough! sounds about right!

Metal Jacket

October 14th, 2009
10:34 pm

UGA coaches “BUSTED”.

Barry Jay

October 14th, 2009
10:34 pm

I have to agree with rational dog. UGA didn’t lose any recruiting battle because they never offered this kid. Obviously, this is nothing more than an attempt to inflame to generate advertising revenue.

Gville = AAA school

October 14th, 2009
10:47 pm

What I think everyone is missing is that Gainesville is a AAA school… I played against them in high school and they are a talented bunch but not D-1 material… It’s really not a big deal that UGA is missing out on them because they are unproven against quality competition in the higher classifications (AAAA & AAAAA). We lost the QB Sims because we wanted him as an athlete and Taylor Jones chose Stanford because he’s going to need that education i.e. he’ll not make it to the next level (oh yeah, and UGA didn’t offer him early enough which amounts to him not showing anything special at the camps). I’ll take the Calhoun receiver Rogers and Alpharetta’s Bennett over him any day. Again, Gainesville is a AAA “power” but not a D-1 producing program… I have not seen this Johnson kid but I’m certain if he was stellar he’s still unproven against quality opponents. He probably plays LB at 6′3 225 because he can without anyone of real speed running the ball against him. On another note, the best player to come out of 7AAA is TJ Pitts who went to Memphis and is still not starting but getting some quality playing time. Dawgs will bounce back so no worries.

kcvol

October 14th, 2009
10:57 pm

interesting…… just curious, what division was Hershel Walker’s high school?

Gville = AAA school

October 14th, 2009
11:00 pm

kcvol, i knew someone would bring that up… After Hershel ran over UT didn’t matter did it? I’m not saying all players from AAA aren’t D-1 material but just that G-ville players “historically” have not panned out well at the D-1 level… If you think I’m wrong, please tell me one Gainesville player that is starting at the D-1 level at a quality program… That’s right, there isn’t one…

Change Has To Come

October 14th, 2009
11:01 pm

The fact that UGA didn’t offer Johnson, doesn’t mean they didn’t miss anything! By the current win-loss column, their missing everything. Their missing a QB, a consistent RB, an o-line that can get a little push, a d-line that creates pressure, LB’s that are near the ball, and DB’s that aren’t lost between cover 2 tampa and run support. We can’t judge UGA’s lack of early offers, as arrogance about the program, they are just missing the mark now. UGA is loosing ground like quicksand. This staff is supposed to great, and can’t beat a 1st year coach, with 1st year talent at UT. Auburn and UT are doing better with less. UGA fans needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

Looking at the first few games, and the remaining schedule, if I were UGA I’d worry about losing the Class of 2010. Who cares about 2011 right now. UT is hungry and humble about where they are!And LK is going all out to get the talent thats needed to compete. Now, UT cld also be on probation within 24 months, but the ride will be interesting along the way.

UGA better get of their pedistal and do something, or that coaching staff won’t have to worry about recruiting any class. The only recruiting they will be doing, is for their replacements.

They’ve done a terrible job in-state. Maybe if they closed GA’s borders, and stop trying to grab every AJ Green out-of-state, maybe they’d be in better shape. AJ Green is a great grab, but two more Da’Rick Rodgers’ wouldn’t have been bad either. Take a chance, but don’t make out-of-state recruiting everything. Look at what GT is doing and 95% of their team is from GA.

outkasted

October 14th, 2009
11:05 pm

u should be asking how many others on hershel walker’s high school went D1?

Need that Talent baby

October 14th, 2009
11:06 pm

Change, I agree with most of your takes… Here’s UGA selling points for a QB and RB… To the QB, come to UGA and we’ll develop you into the #1 pick in the NFL Draft… To the RB, come to UGA and we’ll give you the carries to put you in a position to be the #1 RB taken in the NFL Draft… I disagree with you some because Stafford & Knowshon were out of state talent! UT, Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma can’t say the same (Southern Cal could though!).

Urban Cryer

October 14th, 2009
11:09 pm

Hey rational, you better wake up…Richt and company better pick up the pace. This isn’t fulmer recruiting anymore, UT’s staff is tireless. Juwaun James is the next one leaving for Knoxville. Michael Taylor already committed to UT along with Markeith Ambles and JC Copeland. If we’re going to compare who’s a talent and who isn’t, at this point I’d take Monte Kiffin’s evaluation over that twit Martinez. UGA not offering him isn’t a sign he’s lacking, it’s a sign that UGA is slacking.

kcvol

October 14th, 2009
11:10 pm

you got me there, since I’m not from the area I’m not going to pretend I know the history of Gainesville High School football. I do believe that talented players are playing at small schools all across this country. I also believe that the best college coaches search schools both big and small looking for that special player that has the potential to contribute to a championship team. They can’t be hung up on school size or stars. That’s why when someone like Tennessee DC Monte Kiffin offers a player a scholarship over a year before signing day I believe he sees something that fans like you or me don’t have the knowledge to see. Considering the way Monte’s defense manhandled Georgia this past weekend he must know something about defensive personnel.

Chill

October 14th, 2009
11:11 pm

He’s a scout-teamer at best……

Gville = AAA School- NOT!

October 14th, 2009
11:17 pm

Da’rick Rodgers just became a known phenom. 4 months he was a kid that tested well at camps and didn’t show up in games. Looked like Tarzan and played like Lucy. AA talent pool, my grandmother could catch balls, against AA. He sure didn’t do anything memorable vs. Buford, when they won their second state title in a row. 2009 – He is finally having the season he is supposed to for his size and speed. Rumor has kids from Pahokee were jamming off the line, and made him a marginal player, in Tampa this summmer. Don’t toot his horn yet. And who is Michael Bennett. He isn’t even the best receiver on his team. Brandon Terry has him beat and Alpharetta can’t get the ball. He doesn’t even lead his conference, let alone the state, in any category. The WR Chris Boyd and Keegan Hughes are better at Roswell. Milton has a better WR and Hutson Mason has three also rand WR at Lassiter HS that would run circles around Bennett. He is so over-rated, it’s priceless. You heard it here first, Chris Bennett is no Chris Durham. His game is forgetful. UGA was his biggest offer, he needed to take it, before he ended up William and Mary handing out H20.. Jones lead the state in receptions, with 2x the td’s. Alpharetta and Gainesville run the same offense. Difference QB’s. Blake Sims is a beast and will be seen on Sunday’s. I bet you Calhoun or Alpharetta couldn’t play and beat Gainesville or Buford or Flowery Branch this year. Calhoun is good, don’t get me wrong, but Alpharetta couldn’t beat themselves in an inner squad scrimmage.

Gen Neyland

October 14th, 2009
11:27 pm

Good call, A.J. It’s one you won’t regret. Guaranteed…By your senior year, SEC rings will grace your fingers and the BCSNC is be a real possibility. I know. I’m seeing it develop.

Um, no...

October 14th, 2009
11:29 pm

Gville = AAA School- NOT! sounds like a homer… Sims a beast? Isn’t he 6′0 175? He’s not even the best QB in his signing class at Alabama (Phillip Sims is by the way)! I’d rather take the players that have proven themselves at camps (like Rogers & Bennett) then 3 star talent like Sims…

Cracker

October 14th, 2009
11:36 pm

Holy cow!!!! UT got someone from GA… maybe… in 2 years… UT never got people from GA wehn Fatty Fulmer was there… Kiffin is crushing the UGA program… I wish Richt would hire some assistants who would take their shirts off and stuff…

Um no

October 14th, 2009
11:36 pm

Sims is a better athlete and will have more of an impact at the college level than Da’Rick. Da’Rick is good, but one dimensional today. Bennett doesn’t even factor into the equation. There’s no comparison to note.

Chuck Uga

October 14th, 2009
11:39 pm

There are going to be plenty of Div. 1 players available to UGA and everyone else in 2011. Georgia probably has not begun to offer for 2011, and Kiffin/Orgeron are simply trying to “outflank” UGA to try and steal some Georgia talent. The battle isn’t over….Garner would eat Orgeron’s lunch if he has too. UGA will land another top 10 class in 2010 and 2011…with or without this kid. The problem at UGA isn’t talent, it’s coaching.

Um no

October 14th, 2009
11:42 pm

Bennett is 3 stars, Rodgers was 3 stars, before he commited to UGA. All of a sudden he is now 5 stars. You keep all the stars, tell UGA, the fans would rather have the wins. UT didn’t have but one 5 star on the field. Eric Berry. I’ll take him over any defender at UGA. Stop pumping up the stars, and get some kids that want to play. It a whole lot of difference between Florida’s 5 stars and UGA’s. UGA’s never seem to pan out. Win a game worth winning, then you can earn the right to talk about other schools recruits. If this is the mindset behind UGA’s current results, maybe recruiting needs to go in another direction.

Chuck Uga

October 14th, 2009
11:42 pm

One more point. Lane Kiffin will be lucky to win ANY games against Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Sure, he’s beaten Richt this year and unless Richt cleans house, he’ll beat him again in 2010. However, I seriously doubt Tennessee will have as good a team in 2010 with yet another new QB and no Eric Berry or Dan Williams. Looks to me like UGA and UT are reverting to a “win at home” situation. I for one still say Kiffin will not survive at UT regardless of who he signs. He cannot compete with the best of the best in the SEC. Right now, Richt isn’t one of those, but he could move back up with a new staff in 2010. If not, he is history after next season. Book it.

Come On....

October 14th, 2009
11:45 pm

He’s a 1 star LB with the speed of a D-Lineman. Good pull ole Kiffy-boy!!!!!

Chuck Uga

October 14th, 2009
11:45 pm

Gen Neyland, hate to break it to you, but Lane Kiffin will never win an SEC title at UT.
He may never win an SEC East title.

Keep this in mind Vollies. No coach in the past 60 years has succeeded in the SEC when following a legend. Phil Fulmer is a legend, like it or not. Kiffin is short term.

Supes

October 14th, 2009
11:48 pm

first, if this kid really wanted to go to UGA, he can still go and change his VC.

second, sounds like he’s a bit ful of himself with the whole “waiting on them to offer but never did”…not sure if UGA needs that kind of attitude in their program right now. you are a junior…unless you are a SPECIAL talent you aren’t going to get courted much from a lot of schools. Tenn courted him and stroked his ego by offering early. UGA will move on from this. One guy doesn’t make or break a recruiting class. (unless he’s darn good and plays QB)

Robert

October 14th, 2009
11:55 pm

I’m happy for the young man but this is getting out of hand. He’s half way through his JR year of HS and he’s committing. What is the big rush with these guys now?

Supes to deez nuts

October 14th, 2009
11:55 pm

I am tired about UGA’s recruiting measures. They are more methodical than others, whatever. These kids are being recruited earlier and making up their minds earlier. UGA’s ego is keeping them from winning the recruiting war. They ARE NOT moving at the pace of recruiting. It’s not Johnson’s fault UT recognized his talent and went after what they wanted. UGA chased Murray and Green, likes girls, so why shouldn’t Johnson worthy of the same treatment. UGA is loosing on the field, because of coaching, but also because aren’t excited to go there, like they used to be. Wake Up, times have changed. You can now offer kids schollys in the 8th grade. I’m not saying it’s rigth, but in basketball, its the pace of today’s game. Either your in or your out.

Gen Neyland

October 14th, 2009
11:59 pm

Chuck Uga : One of us will be right, one of us will be wrong, but if you’ll pull your head out of Uga’s arse, you’ll see the SEC East is beginning to shift toward Tennessee. Won’t happen overnite, but UT will win the SECC under Kiffin. More recruits are becoming believers and so are the UT 2009 underclassmen…

Mike

October 15th, 2009
12:02 am

Supes to deez nuts, is correct. Either UGA wins at everything, or secure a staff who wants too. I’m tired of losing. LSU wasn’t that great. We shouldn’t have lost the game. We need to be excited about recruiting, like everything else. We are hearing more storys about kids commiting early and less of them are switching their commitment at the end. kids are smarter today. THey now what they want. Keep pace or continue to keep losing.

Gen Neyland

October 15th, 2009
12:03 am

…a QB. My wife’s fortune for a QB. Scour the countryside, CLK. One will come. The One will come.

ckgator

October 15th, 2009
12:09 am

Does Johnson even have a rating yet from the recruiting pundits? Not mentioned in the article, so I suspect that he’s very good, but perhaps not top-tier.

Corporal Neyland: UT fans will be begging to fire Kiffin by mid-season, 2010. Until then, get ready for more fun Kiffin “spin!”

Recruitnik

October 15th, 2009
12:38 am

I like AJ Johnson, but no big loss to be frank. UGA has other guys higher on their boards. That’s part of recruiting. AJ is a good player, but just because he is an instate kid and from gainesville does not mean uga needs to offer him. I have no issue with kids from gainesville leaving the state. I hope they enjoy stanford, alabama, and tennessee. We have plenty of instate and out of state talent that the staff is focusing on.