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.”