Tommy Thigpen Excited About LB Jakob Johnson


Apr 20, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; The Tennessee Volunteers football team holds up their helmets while the band plays Rocky Top after the spring Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

When you think of talented linebackers, Germany typically isn’t one of the places you think of first.

In fact, it’s probably not where you think of football players coming from at all.

But that’s exactly where the Vols got one of their top 2014 linebacker commits (by way of Florida).

Jakob Johnson, a 6’4″/220 lb linebacker from Stuttgart, Germany, has lived in the United States for less than two years and played one season of high school football in Florida. That was enough for Johnson to rack up a few scholarship offers and be rated as a four-star recruit.

One of the Vols’ weakest position groups last season was linebacker. With Curt Maggitt missing the entire season, the Vols’ severely lacked depth. It was pretty bleak outside of AJ Johnson and Dontavis Sapp.

So it comes as no surprise that Butch Jones and his staff put a lot of effort into locking down some top linebackers in the 2014 class. In addition to Johnson the Vols also added Vol legacy Dillon Bates, Gavin Bryant, Eilliot Berry and Chris Weatherd.

Among those linebackers, Jakob Johnson has probably been the least celebrated. It’s assumed that Weatherd, the top JuCo linebacker in the nation, will start alongside AJ Johnson and Maggitt this season.

Bates and Berry have received a great deal of attention due to their status as Vol legacies, while Bryant is highly talked about since he was a four-star recruit the Vols were able to pluck out of Alabama.

But it’s the import from Germany that has UT linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen extremely excited, as he talked about on Vol calls recently.

Going through spring practice is obviously a huge advantage for Johnson. He’s adding weight and gaining valuable experience that his counterparts don’t have the luxury of doing.

Sometimes it’s the players you don’t expect that end up making the biggest impact. Just ask defensive back Cam Sutton, who ended up being the Vols’ most valuable player on defense last season as a true freshman.

I’m not saying Johnson will have that type of impact this season, but I have a feeling you’ll be hearing a lot about the linebacker from Germany in 2014.