David Johnson Officially Leaves Vols for FSU

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    (Photo via Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Tennessee made a push, but the pull to move closer to home was just too strong for David Johnson.

    After the Vols made a counter-offer to Florida State’s offer, running backs coach David Johnson has officially decided to move on from UT and head down to Florida to join the Seminoles’ staff.

    Per the USA Today Sports salary database, Johnson is currently making $505,000 annually at Tennessee as the Vols’ running backs coach.

    Johnson detailed his decision to leave Knoxville with Austin Price of Volquest.com

    “I just really appreciate everything that Tennessee did for me,” Johnson told Price. “They have a support base and not a fan base. They support like nobody else. The biggest thing it came down to me was I needed to put my son in the best position, and it’s closer to home for my wife. She can get home much easier at FSU.

    “I’ll always cherish the memories I made at Tennessee. The walk in the stadium was priceless. Even in tough times, the people never left us. It will always stand out to me. Those are the things that I will remember.”

    Johnson worked for new Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell at Memphis from 2016-17 where Johnson served as the Tigers’ wide receivers coach. While at Memphis, Johnson helped develop Anthony Miller from a walk-on to an All-American and the No. 51 overall pick by the Chicago Bears.

    Jeremy Pruitt hired Johnson to his coaching staff upon arriving at Tennessee prior to the 2018 season. Johnson served as the Vols’ wide receiver coach in 2018 before becoming the running backs coach in 2019 after Pruitt hired Tee Martin as wide receivers coach.

    Johnson’s running backs rushed for 1,622 yards and eight touchdowns this season. They averaged 4.7 yards per carry as a group. Junior Ty Chandler led the group with 655 rushing yards, while freshman Eric Gray burst on to the scene with 539 yards. Tim Jordan rushed for 428 yards.

    Prior to his time at Memphis, Johnson tallied 20 years of experience as a high school and college coach in Louisiana and Mississippi.

    Johnson was pivotal to Tennessee’s success on the recruiting trail in the early signing period for the 2020 class. Johnson helped UT land several prospects from Memphis, and his ties to Louisiana have the Vols in contention for a few more prospects as well. Johnson’s departure likely changes Tennessee’s recruiting board slightly here in the 2020 cycle and in the 2021 cycle.

    Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt now has a vacancy to fill, his fourth staff change in his first two years as head coach.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.