Anthony Johnson (6-2, 296, 4.8) committed to the Tennessee Volunteers back in May and current LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson played a key role in that decision.
Wilson, who coached at O.P. Walker before joining the college ranks which included a stint at Tennessee for much of 2009, has been a big influence on Johnson since he was young and the opportunity to play for his mentor as well as remain close to his family was too much for Johnson to pass up.
“It was both my family and the opportunity to stay home with the people I know,” Johnson confirmed to TigerSportsDigest.com. “Of course, Coach Frank was big too.”
The decision wasn’t easy for Johnson as he feels very strongly about giving his word to the Volunteer coaches. In the end, though, he felt that LSU was the best situation.
“It was a very tough decision,” Johnson explained. “Coach (Ed) Orgeron and Coach (Monte) Kiffin are good coaches and it was a hard decision. But you have to make tough decisions sometimes and you have to do what’s best for you.
“I talked to my mom yesterday (Thursday) and my mom told me wherever I wanted to go was good with her but I know the nine hour drive to see me play would have been hard for her,” Johnson continued. “I told her I wanted to stay home and play for the home crowd and she went into tears when I told her that.”
Johnson slept on the decision and when he woke up on Friday morning he said that he did not have any regrets and was ready to make the call.
“I called Coach Miles and he told me congratulations and he couldn’t wait for me to be a Tiger,” Johnson said. “He said he wished he could ship me up to the bowl game so I could play now. You could sense the excitement in his voice.”
Miles wasn’t the only member of the staff that was elated to hear the good news.
“Coach Frank was like congratulations and was just saying that I could make this place a better place,” explained Johnson. “It’s a two in one deal. He’s coming home to Louisiana and I committed. He’s ecstatic right now.”
Making LSU a better place is something that is attractive to Johnson but he hopes to make an impact on the state as a whole, particularly New Orleans.
“Coming from New Orleans, a place that has been at the bottom of the food chain for a long time, I want to help my community get back on top and by me going to LSU I want to stay home and help my community,” Johnson said. “I want to show people there’s no need to leave Louisiana.”
Included in that group of people Johnson wants to influence into staying inside the Bayou State is a bumper crop of Louisiana prospects for 2011. A group of guys that Johnson has already grown close to.
“As far as that, it’s a great thing to help these guys see that LSU is a great place,” Johnson said. “I want Jarvis Landry and all of those guys to come with me and I’m going to do my part. We’re going to keep LSU in the glory days.”
Note: Johnson is projected to be a 5-star defensive tackle by Scout.com and he finished his junior campaign with 89 tackles and 16 sacks in nine games.