He was once a four-star junior college transfer at defensive tackle. But Alexis Johnson had a legal issue that kept him out of football shape for 2016, then he suffered an injury. He never really got any consistency heading into 2017 either, and all the staff changes likely had something to do with that.
However, entering 2018, Johnson has a great chance to be a valuable part of Tennessee football’s defensive line. With Kahlil McKenzie gone, Jeremy Pruitt got a bit limited with what he can do in his 3-4 transition. His use of the system involves usually two defensive tackles with one moving over to end.
Then, when he has four down lineman, he can move that one end inside to tackle. This is exactly a role that fits Johnson. At 6’3″ 314 pounds, Johnson has the size and talent to be this versatile lineman and also fill in purely at nose tackle when needed.
Four-star junior college transfer Emmit Gooden and four-star true freshman Greg Emerson could threaten him for this role, but as a redshirt senior, this is Johnson’s time to break out. Nathanael Rutherford of Rocky Top Insider noted that Johnson is one of the three best defensive linemen on the field right now in practice, though. That’s a big deal.
It’s clear that this is Johnson’s year to finally reach the potential he had when he arrived on campus in 2016. Distractions and injuries behind him, his size and talent should allow him to have a huge impact.