It's evident that Tennessee plans on recruiting the state of Louisiana with a passion the Vols have never seen before.
Former New Orleans Athletic Director and former head coach of O.P. Walker High School Frank Wilson has many ties to the Bayou State. Add former New Orleans Saints defensive line coach and former Louisiana native Ed Orgeron to the mix and the Vols are beginning to be a force to be reckon with in an area that LSU has always dominated.
During their tenure at Ole Miss, Wilson and Orgeron were able to pull some good talent away from the Bengal Tigers, now being at Tennessee the stakes seem to be higher.
Orgeron is now the recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach for the University of Tennessee, he and Wilson flexed their connections in the Pelican State this past week when they secured an early pledge from 2011 defensive lineman Anthony Johnson from Wilson's old stomping ground.
"I have known Coach Frank forever," Johnson told InsideTennessee.com this past Friday. "He and Coach O are like family to me. It just feels right at Tennessee for me."
Johnson is expected to be one of the top players in the state if not the best player the Bayou State has to offer in 2011.
According to Scout.com director of High School Recruiting Scott Kennedy, the Vols picked up a huge pledge from a very talented athlete.
"Johnson was probably the most impressive athlete at the entire New Orleans combine last month," Kennedy said. "We would have named him the Combine MVP if he hadn't been a sophomore. He was one of the most dominant athletes there."
LSU has only allowed two five star prospects to escape the Louisiana Territory in the past few years. One being Joe McKnight, who left the state for glitz and lights of Hollywood and USC and Janzen Jackson of Lake Charles who chose the Vols over LSU this past signing day.
Wilson and Orgeron pulled off an unbelievable task last February when Jackson, a highly coveted defensive back decided he liked Orange better than he did purple.
Jackson was the No. 2 overall player in the state of Louisiana last year.
While Vol fans are excited about Johnson's commitment this past Friday, everyone realizes the battle in the Bayou isn't over.
"It's great to get a commitment from one of Louisiana's best players, but there is a long time before signing day 2011," one fan wrote on the Rocky Top News Premium Forum. "You can bet that LSU won't go down without a fight with this one."
According to Johnson in his interview last week with InsideTennessee.com, it was Wilson and Orgeron that made his decision an easy one.
"Tennessee is headed in the right direction," Johnson said. "They have brought in one of the best coaching staffs in the country. They have the best defensive coordinator in the country in Monte Kiffin and the best defensive line coach in the country in Coach O."
Johnson noted that Monte Kiffin, a NFL legend and Coach Orgeron's experience with the New Orleans Saints played a part in his decision.
"It's my goal and dream to play one day in the NFL," Johnson said. "I know I couldn't prepare myself for the league any better than trusting my career to those two coaches."
Johnson becomes the second 2011 pledge for Tennessee, and could be the first No. 1 overall athlete from the Pelican State to choose the color orange over purple. Time will tell, but for now Coach O has given new meaning to the Big Orange, especially in the state of Louisiana.