Johnson juggles SEC offers as freshman

Brentwood Academy has already produced one current Tennessee talent. Could the Division II-AA program give the Vols another in freshman wide receiver Camron Johnson?

Camron Johnson is only a freshman but already he’s making an impression on the college football world. The 5-11, 180-pound Brentwood Academy star has received offers from Tennessee and Ole Miss before he’s even old enough to legally see an R-rated movie in theaters. He’s also quickly becoming the interest of other college programs across the Southeast as he prepares for his second season of high school football.

Tennessee was able to strike first in extending Johnson a scholarship, something that wasn’t lost on the wide receiver.

“It meant a lot to me, especially coming from the SEC, which is one of the best conferences in the NCAA,” Johnson told InsideTennessee. “It meant a lot because I wasn’t expecting it, but also it was a humbling experience.”

The Vols recognized Johnson’s skills as he starred as a freshman at talent-rich Brentwood Academy in nearby Brentwood, Tennessee, and didn’t wait long to pull the trigger. Being able to play in a Division II-AA powerhouse program like Brentwood is helping shape Johnson into a well-rounded Division I prospect, he said.

“I think it’s preparing me pretty well. I think that when I get off to college that playing at Division II is going to help me out a lot to get ahead a little bit of the athletes I’ll be going up against,” Johnson said. “I think it’s definitely one of the strongest divisions in Tennessee, if not the nation.”

It certainly helped current Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett, a Brentwood Academy alum who racked up 10 sacks and 72 total tackles in a Freshman All-America season for the Vols in 2014. Watching Barnett, whom Johnson knew from his time in high school, was a nice reminder of how impactful a talented freshman can be to a team.

“It was great. I was just really happy for him,” he said. “I was surprised a little bit that a freshman could make that big of an impact, but he played amazing this year and I was really proud of him.”

Being close to Knoxville has endeared Johnson to Tennessee, where he’s been able to take in the grandeur of a Tennessee football Saturday both in person and from afar.

“I know that they have very good fans and that they have one of the biggest college stadiums in the nation,” he said. “I talked to the coaches a couple of times when I went up there and whenever they came to visit (me).”

The budding wide out visited Tennessee for the Utah State, Florida and Missouri games last season and enjoyed the passion-inducing atmosphere Rocky Top provides. The player who models himself after Amari Cooper and is being courted by both Ole Miss and Vanderbilt along with the Vols believes he could one day see himself running out of the tunnel sporting an orange jersey. While he’s nowhere close to making a final decision, Tennessee sits at the top of his list.

“It was a great environment to be in,” Johnson said. “It’s just crazy to think that many people come to watch a game, but I could definitely see myself playing in front of a crowd that big. That would be amazing and just a great experience.”

InsideTennessee managing editor Danny Parker contributed to this report.

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