Tennessee senior wide receiver Brandon Johnson will redshirt this season according to Jeremy Pruitt
The Vols will be losing several wideouts to graduation after the 2019 season, and Johnson was scheduled to be one of them. Now, however, he’ll be sticking around for another season at UT.
“It’s something we’ve decided to do moving forward,” Pruitt said of the plans to redshirt Johnson following Wednesday’s practice. “He’s a guy that has really good ability, but we have some senior guys there that were a little ahead of him at the time (fall camp).”
Johnson will be taking advantage of the new redshirt rule that allows players to play in up to four games while preserving a year of eligibility as long as they don’t play in any other games that season. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native had played in Tennessee’s first four games against Georgia State, BYU, Tennessee-Chattanooga, and Florida, but he didn’t play against Georgia this past weekend.
He has two receptions on the season — a 7-yard catch against the Mocs and a 22-yard catch against the Gators. Johnson’s lack of production mostly has to do with Marquez Callaway, Jauan Jennings, and Josh Palmer playing in front of him. As a result, the idea of redshirting Johnson is something that’s been thrown out there since the beginning of fall camp.
“It is one of the things me and Brandon talked about,” Pruitt explained. “I thought about it in fall camp with Jauan (Jennings), Marquez (Callaway) and Josh Palmer, those three guys and with some of the younger guys — Cedric Tillman and Ramel Keyton — having some success there in fall camp.
“We talked about it a little bit as a staff. Then, I met with Brandon and his mom and dad and we decided to do that. Brandon was playing probably 8-12 snaps offensively through the first four games.”
For his career, Johnson has caught 60 passes for 738 yards and a touchdown. His best season was his sophomore year in 2017 where he caught a team-high 37 passes for 482 yards and a touchdown.
Johnson redshirting is good news for the future of Tee Martin’s wide receiver group. The Vols will lose their two leading receivers — Jennings and Callaway — following the season due to graduation. Tyler Byrd is also set to graduate. Had Johnson also moved on due to graduation, Martin’s group would lack significant experience next season. Palmer would be the only projected senior in a group full of freshmen and sophomores.
But with the return of Johnson, Palmer, Cedric Tillman, and Ramel Keyton next season, the group shouldn’t experience as big of a drop as initially anticipated. Throw in the fact that Georgia transfer Deangelo Gibbs will be eligible and Tennessee possibly adding four-star Jalin Hyatt, four-star Jimmy Calloway, and maybe another receiver or two in their 2020 class, and that group should be plenty productive next season as well.