Meet the Tennessee Football Newcomers: Vols Wide Receiver Brandon Johnson

Nov 14, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; General view of Neyland Stadium during the game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the North Texas Mean Green. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; General view of Neyland Stadium during the game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the North Texas Mean Green. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /

Here is an analysis of incoming 2016 Tennessee football recruit Brandon Johnson, who joins the Vols as a wide receiver.

With four regular contributors returning at wide receiver for the Vols in 2016 and none of them being seniors, Butch Jones is still sticking to his philosophy of utilizing as many players as possible at the position, often times stressing bodies over quality.

Only this time, he went for speed in the sunshine state to find his talent. Before bringing on Latrell Williams at the last minute, Jones received a commitment from Brandon Johnson with help from Mike DeBord and Zach Azzanni.

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Another Florida guy, Johnson comes from American Heritage in Plantation, Fla. as a member of the South Florida athleticism pipeline. He committed to the Vols back on Sept. 3, 2015, just two days before their season opener.

Standing at 6’2″ 175 pounds, Johnson was only a three-star on Rivals, but Tennessee beat the LSU Tigers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, and heavily favored hometown team Miami Hurricanes to secure his commitment.

He may not be the underrated hype that is Latrell Williams, who also committed from the area, but Johnson’s frame and level of competition adequately prepares him for SEC football.

Early Analysis

A two-sport athlete who also excels at basketball, Johnson has very impressive leaping abilities along with a healthy amount of speed, particularly breakaway speed when he gets behind receivers and into the open field.

As a standard receiver, there really is not a weakness in Johnson’s game. He is great at coming down with difficult catches, often being used on fade routes in the corner of the end zone or in simple hot routes down the sideline.

But Johnson can also run routes anywhere on the field, having demonstrated a willingness to go over the middle and catch passes in traffic as well. His blocking ability makes him very multi-dimensional.

The only problem with Johnson is that while he can do everything, he’s not really great at anything. His hands are good, to be fair, but he’s a little slow off the line of scrimmage, and almost all of his routes are simple hot routes over the middle, down the sideline, or on a fade pattern. His quickness and route-running have to get better if he is to succeed in the SEC.

But he does have potential to improve everywhere, which is a very good sign going forward. That should be his focus on campus.

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What Brandon Johnson Brings to Tennessee

As Butch Jones has continuously mentioned, his system requires that he and DeBord rotate receivers in and out as much as possible. Even with Williams and a junior college transfer in Jeff George as new arrivals, that system still gives Johnson a chance to see the field early.

The best part about Johnson is that he brings a level of insurance and versatility. If there are issues in the slot or on the outside, he could come in and fill either role. That doesn’t just provide immediate depth. It bodes well for the future also.

And that brings us to our next part. As loaded as the Vols are over the next two years at receiver, Johnson will eventually become a regular in the rotation if he stays on campus. If he picks up a bit of speed and learns to run routes, think of him as a potential Denarius Moore with a bit more height.

That is the best case scenario for Johnson, but even if he doesn’t reach that status, he still has the potential to be a very good football player in Knoxville, and he already has a baseline of skills to be solid.

So expect to hear his name called a good bit in the future.