July 10, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The preseason recognition for A.J. Johnson continues to roll in. On Thursday, the senior linebacker was named to the preseason Watch List for the Bronko Nagurski Award, presented to the nation's defensive player of the year by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
Johnson is on the list for the second year in a row. He is one of 16 SEC players on the list. Last year, Johnson and Daniel McCullers were on the list.
As a senior, Johnson has already been named to the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik Award Watch List, Lott IMPACT Award and CFPA Linebacker of the Year Award. He is a consensus preseason All-American, earning recognition as a first and second teamer from various outlets.
Johnson returned to Tennessee for his senior season after another stellar campaign as a junior. A 2013 AP and Coaches All-SEC first-team selection, Johnson became the first Vol to record 100 tackles in back to back seasons since Earnest Fields did so in 1990-91 finishing his 2013 campaign with 106. Johnson also notched 8.5 tackles for a loss of 17 yards, tying a career high, while also recovering a fumble and breaking up three passes. Johnson notched five double-digit tackling efforts in 2013, bringing his career total to 18.
He currently sits in third place on the UT career assisted tackles list with 164. The Gainesville, Ga., native enters his final season on Rocky Top with 324 career tackles in 36 career games.