Brandon Johnson says Vols 'really care'

You won't find better coverage of Vol football than here at InsideTennessee. Check out this story on a South Florida receiver with a knack for getting open.

At the conclusion of Saturday’s Orange Carpet Day South Florida receiver Brandon Johnson couldn’t stop praising Tennessee receivers coach Zach Azzani. Literally … he couldn’t stop.

“He’s a great dude, one of my favorite coaches,” Johnson said. “He’s just a great dude, all around. That’s all I can say.”

Pausing for a moment, the prospect whispered: “He’s right there.”

Anyone who has watched Johnson’s high school highlights understands that he isn’t accustomed to being crowded. The 6-foot-2, 179-pounder exhibits a real knack for getting separation. Asked by InsideTennessee to describe his game, the speedy, finesse receiver replied: “Smooth, long, good hands, good routes, and I like to go get it.”

Johnson caught just one pass in American Heritage’s state title game with Tallahassee Godby last December but it produced a 7-yard touchdown that helped spur the Patriots to a 38-0 romp. He believes he would fit well in Tennessee’s offense, based on what he has seen of the Vols on TV.

“I like it a lot,” he said. “I’m a receiver and they throw it a lot, so of course I’d like it a lot.”

Rated a three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 101 receiver prospect in the Class of 2016 by Scout, Johnson described his first tour of Tennessee’s campus as “first-rate and top notch,” adding: “I had always heard about their facilities and how this was one of the top campuses in the country. But coming here and seeing it has definitely exceeded my expectations.”

Echoing a comment made by virtually every prospect who has visited The Hill since Butch Jones became head coach three years ago, Johnson praised the “family-oriented atmosphere” and noted that “The people are great around here … they really care.” He said Saturday’s visit “definitely” enhanced his opinion of Tennessee’s program and that he “most definitely” will make a return visit to watch the Vols play in the fall.

Charles Johnson played catcher for the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Marlins but Brandon says his father’s alma mater is one of several schools he’s seriously considering. Among the teams high on his list are Georgia, LSU, Illinois, North Carolina State and Tennessee.

Johnson said he’s seeking a program with the right style of play, good academics and a great football atmosphere, adding that he’s also looking for a place that makes him feel “at home.”

When asked what stands out about the Vols, he answered: “They’re just top-class. Everything’s nice. There’s nothing bad about this place.”

Johnson never saw Tennessee’s TaxSlayer Bowl beat-down of Iowa but has no doubt the program is on the upswing under the direction of Jones and his staffers.

“It’s definitely headed in the right direction,” he said. “The quality of play and the quality of guys they bring in … they really know what they’re doing as far as bringing in good guys.”

Johnson said he has no timetable for announcing a commitment, adding: “Right now I’m just weighing my options.”

And choosing his words carefully … especially when Zach Azzanni is standing nearby.

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