Rewind: A.J. Johnson runs wild after committing to Vols


Looking back at the players, plays and games that caught our attention over the weekend. Let us know what you saw and heard.

Linebacker A.J. Johnson committed to the Tennessee Volunteers this past Friday afternoon. Then he hopped on a school bus with his Gainesville High teammates and ran roughshod over rival North Hall a couple of hours later.

Best known for wreaking havoc on defense from his inside linebacker position, Johnson made his presence known on offense in this game. I got to witness his work firsthand as part of the broadcast team for the Channel 2 Sports Zone Game of the Week between Gainesville and North Hall.

After taking just two snaps as the “Wild Elephant” in Gainesville’s shotgun spread offense in the first half, Johnson spent almost the entire second half on offense. He finished with 17 carries for 192 yards and scored all three touchdowns in the Red Elephants’ 20-13 victory at The Brickyard.

“One of the most dominating performances I’ve ever seen,” coach Bruce Miller said.

Football is the ultimate team sport, but Johnson was unquestionably the difference in the game. Running a simple option-read play to the left or right, North Hall defenders struggled to bring down the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Johnson as he kept the clock and the chains the moving in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory. What’s more, Johnson never came off the field in the second half. In addition controlling the middle from his inside linebacker position, Johnson also played on Gainesville’s kick-coverage teams.

“I got a little tired but I can do that all season if they need me to,” he said. “I hope they do. I enjoyed it.”

As for committing to Tennessee, that was a bit of a surprise, too. Not the fact that he decided to go with the Vols — he committed to them as a junior before Lane Kiffin left for Southern Cal — but the timing of it. Earlier in the week Johnson said he planned to take all five of his official visits.

“I’ve been liking them the most,” Johnson said of the Vols. “It was between Tennessee and Florida and I just kept contemplating it. I prayed about it and decided I was ready to commit to Tennessee. But I might still take a couple of visits.”

Johnson committed to UT assistant coach Chuck Smith on the phone Friday as they discussed plans for his visit. On Saturday, Johnson spent the day in Knoxville for the Tennessee-Florida game.

“I know Florida may be a better team than Tennessee right now,” he said “But I’m looking to the future and I just like Tennessee better. I enjoy it every time I go up there and I really like the coaches.”

Carver’s Isaiah Crowell, Gabe Wright rock on

Carver-Columbus tailback Isaiah Crowell continued his impressive run through his senior season and this time his good work was captured for a national television audience. Crowell gained 185 yards on 27 carries and scored all three touchdowns for the Tigers as they defeated LaGrange 21-3 in a game carried on ESPNU.

For those keeping count, that’s 743 yards on 67 carries in four games for Crowell. That’s an average of 11.1 yards per carry.

Later this weekend, LaGrange coach Steve Pardue told the Todd Holcomb of the AJC and Georgia High School Football Daily that Crowell was probably the best player at any position he’s faced in 20 years at LaGrange, including Quincy Carter and his LaGrange’s own Bruce Thornton.

Without prompting, Pardue added: “Gabe Wright ain’t far behind him either. I thought he had a phenomenal game against us. He’s 297 pounds and real athletic.’’

Pardue was asked what impressed you about Wright?

“We couldn’t block him all game. Other than that, he didn’t impress me at all. On our second drive, we had a guy open for a touchdown, and he knocked it down [from the line of scrimmage]. To be that big and athletic, that’s tough.’’

Thanks to Austin Brown, no drop off for Flowery Branch

Last week we talked about how there hadn’t been much drop off for Calhoun High despite the loss of the record-setting quarterback/wide receiver combination of Nash Nance and Da’Rick Rogers. Well, the same can be said about Flowery Branch.

Despite the graduation of all-state quarterback Connor Shaw, the Falcons are still racking up big offensive numbers. That’s because of the play of quarterback Austin Brown, who transferred in from Habersham County after last season.

In a win over Cedar Shoals this past weekend, Brown was 12-of-20 for 261 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, Brown has passed for 886 yards and 8 touchdowns with no interceptions for the 4-0 Falcons.

Meanwhile, Shaw continues to get significant playing time as a true freshman at South Carolina. He was 4-of-5 for 42 yards and had 22 yards rushing on four carries in the Gamecocks’ win over Furman this past Saturday.

Etc. . . .

C.J. Uzomah continues to get it done from all over the field for North Gwinnett. Playing both quarterback and wide receiver, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Auburn commitment had four receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns, went 4-of-4 passing for 39 yards and had four rushes for 22 yards in the Bulldogs’ win over Collins Hill. Quarterback Scotty Hosch was 13-of-14 for 226 yards and three touchdowns in the game. . . .

Valdosta’s two major college prospects had major impacts in the Wildcats’ 64-62 overtime win over Brunswick. Five-star tight end Jay Rome had 5 catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Mitchell, a four-star defensive back who also plays wide receiver at Valdosta, had five catches for 196 yards and two TDs. The teams combined for 1,165 yards offense. . . .

Stephenson graduate Raymond Sanders scored his third touchdown in three games with a 28-yard scoring run in Kentucky’s win over Akron. . . . North Paulding WR Chris Conley had seven catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns. . . . Kell’s Brian Randolph scored the winning touchdown on a 34-yard run with 35 seconds left in a 20-13 win over East Paulding. . . . Aaron Wimberly had 350 all-purpose yards in South Gwinnett’s 62-27 win over Central Gwinnett, including a 97-yard kickoff return. . . . Austin Hardin kicked a 59-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds left for Marist.

91 comments Add your comment

GT Sambo

September 20th, 2010
10:18 am

Rocky Top you’ll always be… 3rd in the SEC (East).


September 20th, 2010
10:22 am

Right behind Florida and South Carolina, do, do, do do, Rocky top you’ll always be home sweet home to me…..


September 20th, 2010
10:35 am

Let me guess; Georgia didn’t want him anyway.

Glory, Glory

September 20th, 2010
10:37 am

I’ve cancelled me reservation in Jacksonville, but I do have a room for 3 nights in Shrevport for mid December.


September 20th, 2010
10:39 am

So, will Crowell come to Athens and be the difference maker or go to Tuscaloosa and get in the rotation?

Glory, Glory

September 20th, 2010
10:40 am

Almost a million dollars a year for a defensive coordinator (that had bever been a coordinator before) and with all the 5 star recruits, this is what you get for your money? Is it fair to expect more, with the recruits in this state and with the fan support given?


September 20th, 2010
10:41 am


“Let me guess; Georgia didn’t want him anyway.”

Correct sir, they never offered.


September 20th, 2010
10:51 am

They didn’t want him…and apparently Florida had lost interest in him as well as they would not have accepted his committment if he chose to commit to them.


September 20th, 2010
10:59 am

““We couldn’t block him all game.”

In regards to Gabe Wright, I’m sure he’s an excellent DT. However LaGrange’s offensive line AVERAGES 5′11″ 190 pounds. Yes, you read that correctly and that isn’t a typo. Heck, I could play offensive line for LaGrange!

Crowell looks like a fine back, but the hype should be toned down a little bit. He isn’t the second coming of Herschel. He’s got the exact body type ~6′ 210 pounds. He’s strong, he’s fast, he’s got good vision and he can “feel” defensive players around him. He will more than likely be a very good back.

Chip Towers

September 20th, 2010
11:00 am

Glory, Glory: Not to quibble with your point but Grantham was a D-coord. before (Cleveland Browns).

Montgomery Burns

September 20th, 2010
11:03 am

I look forward to reading about the next class of 4 and 5 star players that sign with UGA and never develop at all. 8-4 is back in vogue in Athens, it’s like Donnan never left….


September 20th, 2010
11:16 am

Word out of Shreveport is the welcome mats have all been laid out for UGA.

nerds are funny

September 20th, 2010
11:19 am

Glory ,Glory, you effidently do not know squat about football and are even worse with the one liners. All you haters and doubters need to go out a buy a life.

Les W. Moore

September 20th, 2010
11:23 am

Don’t knock Jim Donnan. He was once a very good college coach. Maybe it’s the environment at UGA that dumbs-down the men’s athletic programs in Athens.


September 20th, 2010
11:26 am

Some good news for UGA and Mark Fox pick up Tim Dixon center from Fl as for Johnson he never decommited from Vols .

Native Atlantan

September 20th, 2010
11:36 am

UGA needs to recruit a new Strength and Conditioning coach as well as a new offensive coordinator. The most experienced OL in the country has to throw 1 yard TD passes against SW Louisiana to a fullback and then has to call a pass play on 3rd and 1 against a mediocre Ark defense….only to get sacked. Bobo’s plays/playcalling doesn’t seem to fool anyone.

Make those two changes with quality hires and UGA will improve two to three games a year.


September 20th, 2010
11:37 am

Johnson alson was never interested in UGA. Thus UGA never offerd, but they had began dialogue with him since the new DC came to Athens.


September 20th, 2010
11:45 am

actually, TNDave, if you saw the article from Friday on A.J., it clearly stated that Martinez did not want him. once we switched to the new D and Grantham came along, UGA went after him, but it was too late, because he already had his feelings hurt over Martinez not wanting him

Hunting Dawg

September 20th, 2010
11:47 am

Shreveport may very well be a stretch for the Dawgs. As long as the ’solid’ offensive line lets an average defense push them around like Arkansas did, UGA will be lucky to win 5 games. Don’t put all of the errors on Murray. Ben Jones needs to learn to hike the ball when a defensive lineman crosses the line. 3 times it happened and not a flinch! They teach that in 8 year old football. Ealey royally missed the block on the final drive. Although they were lucky enough to get it tied for a minute, UGA looked pretty putrid on the whole. Yes, I am a Dawg fan and yes I have the right to state what I just did. Blind loyalty is stupidy when it comes to being a college football fan. I think CMR is a fine, fine individual but the essence of a college football team comes from its leader, the head coach. Don’t blame any of this on the 4 game suspension of Green.

Okay, now that I’m done with my tangent, good luck to young Mr. Johnson. I wish him the best in Knoxville.

Go Dawgs! GATA!

Same Old UT

September 20th, 2010
11:52 am

Always going after Georgia players. A new wrinkle: going after Georgia native coaches. Guess the Volunteer State has to go find “Volunteers” in other states who know how to play football.


September 20th, 2010
11:52 am

hey chip, the dogs do look like they need to replace coach van, do you have any lifting numbers from the summer, i recall some past dawg teams power cleaning 300 lbs or better say 30 or so players, i bet maybe a handful today could do 300 ?? they way they tackle ??


September 20th, 2010
12:04 pm

Glory, Glory ….you must be expecting your TECHIES to be in Shreveport, cause it want be UGA. It is no longer associated with the SEC it is now an ACC bowl. Learn your bowls before you start running your mouth.


September 20th, 2010
12:08 pm

Chip, Calhoun and Flowery Branch just have good recruiting classes.

southwest ga follower

September 20th, 2010
12:09 pm

RXdawg – they maybe small but I have watched small LAgrange offensive line cut and angle block players for years and based on their record they do it fairly well. Size is not as important as fundamentals and desire.


September 20th, 2010
12:18 pm

When Richt gets fired do you think Ga will go after Fulmer?

German Shepherd Dawg

September 20th, 2010
12:20 pm

All you out there who “never was” just keep trashing the Dawgs. Nobody is going to listen to you when things turn around, either.

Grantham has been there for 3 games. He hasn’t had one recruiting class of his players yet. Give me a freaking break.


September 20th, 2010
12:21 pm

Nash, no.

southwest ga follower, your right. And LaGrange did well during that game to keep it close throughout most of it. They were very much out maned, but they never quit. I was actually a little proud of em.

German Shepherd Dawg

September 20th, 2010
12:23 pm


Go hold your clipboard.


September 20th, 2010
12:25 pm

UF did not want this kid. Good luck to him in Tennessee though. I hope he stays out of jail and scrubs well in his once-a-month shower.

SE Dawg

September 20th, 2010
12:36 pm

Donnan had NO CONTROL of the team! Let’s just say they(players) were buying and selling illegal items and he did NOTHING about it! He turned a blind eye to it all! He needed to be gone! Can he coach? He could a little. He is NOT on the same level as CMR and the others. I’m happy with who is coaching UGA! Let’s wait to pass judgment until later or end of the season. If we continue to improve then great. If not, then decisions will be made. Go Dawgs!


September 20th, 2010
12:36 pm

Speaking of fundamentals:
The Dawgs knew USC/Lattimore would run 1st–couldn’t stop them
Arkansas would pass 1st–couldn’t stop them and now Vegas has the Dawgs underDAWGS at Miss St. If the Dawgs LOSE to a 1-2 Miss St team they won’t have to worry about Crowell or any other big time recruit. ” 3 ” straight losses in the SEC will kill your season and your recruiting except for leftovers when the other good football playing schools run out of scholarships!
You all screamed and wanted my head before the season started when I said the Dawgs were looking at 8-4 at best and probably 7-5. Now that reality is hitting you smack in the face it’s time to fix the Dawgs. I for one as a GATOR alum would like the UF/Dawg game to get back to being respectable. As it stands now Georgia hurts the GATORS strength of schedule so it would be nice if you all would start keeping some of that really good high school talent at home rather than going all over the SEC. You can cuss and call names but you need to ban together and get after the AD to put his foot on Richt’s throat and demand excellence or start shopping for a new coach.(make sure the new coach knows how to put together a quality staff that can work together and know what the hell they are doing)


September 20th, 2010
12:54 pm



September 20th, 2010
12:55 pm

Hey Chip, what’s wrong with Caleb King?

sam clemens

September 20th, 2010
12:56 pm

well it has come time for me to pull my riverboat to shore, now the recruits will go where they are paid the most, so let them go where they want. look it has done no good at notre dame and believe me they get the recruits, now remember at some schools you have to actually go to class like TERRY HOAGE once did, so put up with what we have and remember to stay thristy my friends and enjoy a good drink while you are still on this earth. the river is calling me.

Jethro Bodeen

September 20th, 2010
12:58 pm


Old Boy

September 20th, 2010
1:08 pm

Interesting to hear Crowell compared to Thorton. I still remember him (or maybe I should say don’t remember him) giving me a concussion as a senior. I always wondered what would have happened had he gotten a shot a TB. Of course, Sanks was quite the stud coming out of high school too.


September 20th, 2010
1:08 pm

No UGA needs to recruit a whole new coaching staff. After 3 years, there making shows about Nick Saban’s program at Alabama. Some of our best recruits couldn’t start at Alabama.

Paul The Vol

September 20th, 2010
1:09 pm

Wow, it seems so many other schools really didn’t want Johnson anyway. Funny how that all comes out after the commitment instead of before. After all, big, fast, athletic, hard-hitting linebackers are so easy to find these days. Welcome to Knoxville A.J.

Dawg Man

September 20th, 2010
1:12 pm

I’m so disapointed, with all these superstars that UGA has recruited, I just knew we would be the National Champs for the next 5 years.

The Facts

September 20th, 2010
1:15 pm

No playing FIU, Troy, Charleston Southern, Miami (Ohio), and App State the past 2 seasons hurts your strength of schedule….Now go back to your Gator blog.


September 20th, 2010
1:23 pm

I’m a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan and I’m so sick and tired of all the Georgia haters. If you claim to be a UGA fan than just chill and quit with all the negativity. Georgia will be fine. We happen to have played two teams that are just better than we are at this point. We’ll win all of our games up to Florda and will be competitive in that game. We have a new defensive scheme that is tough to learn in a short amount of time. We have young talent and will take another 4 to 5 games to be soild. Georgia will finish the season solidly. Just chill!


September 20th, 2010
1:26 pm

UF would have liked Johnson but as a fallback option. Ryan Shazier has committed and Chris Martin – a 5 star from the 2010 class, has enrolled as a redshirt after initially enrolling at Cal in the Summer. The 2 LB’s they are still trying to get are 5 stars – Anthony (NC) and Grant (Va). If UF gets one or both they’re fine. They also like Magette from Dwyer HS. If not, they may still go after Johnson or Turreen before NSD.

Montgomery Burns

September 20th, 2010
1:28 pm

Get your head out of the sand. You are oblivious if you can see the trend lines in Richt’s tenure. Since 2005 (ironically Meyer’s first year in the conference), he has done nothing other than the vaunted 11-2 2007 season that everyone loves to bring up. Unfortunately, they always fail to mention that even that team loss to 2 inferior opponents. Richt has squandered tons of talent over the last 5 years.


September 20th, 2010
1:39 pm

Funny thing is with How much we all feel we did everything in our power to hand the last 2 games away. Granted we need to shore up things within our coaching when adversity hits, but it will help us next year when more than likely we won’t have AJ. I do believe if he was playing we win both games and it’s UGA in the top 10 right now, it’s sad that UGA might be the best team in the nation when it is all intact and as the season rolls on this will be more apparent that these first 2 games will haunt us.
what could have been?

does USC win without Reggie Bush?
does UF win without Tebow?

when a player is that special to a program it is felt when they’re lost. Bama lucks out that they have probably a better “special” player as a back-up or they would be on that list as well. I’m sure you get my point though. ( A Man among Boys )

TXDawg (The Real TXDawg)

September 20th, 2010
1:40 pm

GT will play in Shreveport before UGA ever does… on that.


September 20th, 2010
1:42 pm

another transfer deal for athletics at Flowery Branch….this is becoming an epidemic in both football and basketball…


September 20th, 2010
1:45 pm

SE Dawg
A lot of UGA fans don’t know what was really going on during the Donnan / Quincy Carter years. Donnan was a good coach and his record isn’t what got him fired. He just couldn’t control his players extra curricula activities. And Carter ,who was a great talent, didn’t last long in the pro’s because of those extra curricula activities.

No Volunteers?

September 20th, 2010
1:46 pm

When it came time to play UNC. Wonder what Davey Crockett would think of that?


September 20th, 2010
2:20 pm

I’m still confused as to why Tech never offered Uzomah. We were the only school in his top choices who wouldn’t offer him.

I understand he may not have fit at QB for us, but couldn’t we have tried him somewhere else, like at WR?

The guy sounds like a great athlete, and you can always use more great athletes.

51-33, 35-14, and 45-19

September 20th, 2010
2:23 pm

“Always going after Georgia players. A new wrinkle: going after Georgia native coaches. Guess the Volunteer State has to go find “Volunteers” in other states who know how to play football.”

Why not get Georgia players? You see the results. The name says it all.