We continue our survey of the Bulldogs looking to take a step forward in 2020 with one of the more intriguing players at a position with intriguing potential.
Jermaine Johnson came to Athens as the #1 ranked JUCO prospect in the country and one of the crown jewels of Kirby Smart’s 2020 signing class. As you’d expect from a JUCO prospect with only two years to play, Johnson entered the rotation at outside linebacker immediately. He played in all 14 games of the 2019 season, earned a start against Murray State, and got a key quarterback pressure to help seal the victory against Notre Dame.
Johnson’s 2019 was pretty productive. You certainly can’t call a season with 20 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks disappointing. But it’s certainly not the kind of production Johnson wants to be the high water mark of his time in the red and black.
And it’s unlikely to be. The 6’5, 260 pound Eden Praire, Minnesota native survived at times in 2019 based solely on his formidable raw athletic ability. But as 2019 progressed he showed signs of mastering his position and the associated techniques, especially as a pass rusher. If that development continues in 2020 Johnson should be in line to make a serious impact.
He’ll have competition if he wants to stand out at outside linebacker for this Bulldog team. Walter Grant, Adam Anderson, and Azeez Ojulari are known quantities at the position. Nolan Smith is also a rising star who made a lot of noise in 2019. To be clear, Johnson may not be the most high profile guy at his own position in 2020. But there’s a real chance that the players in that unit make each other better, and that their combined efforts wear down offenses creating opportunity for each of them to shine. Jermaine Johnson stands to be a major beneficiary of that. Until later...