Tennessee Recruiting: Jones Gets First Commitment As Johnson Flips From Auburn


A Cooper City (Fla.) defensive back is the first commitment in Butch Jones' first class as Tennessee's head football coach.

Lemond Johnson wanted to graduate from high school early, enroll in college early and get a head start on his career at the next level.

Gus Malzahn -- new head coach at Auburn, where Johnson has been committed for the past six months -- told him he wouldn't be able to do that on the Plains. So, Johnson opened up his recruitment and immediately looked North, where primary recruiter Willie Martinez and another one of the coaches recruiting him, Tommy Thigpen, had been hired by new Vols coach Butch Jones.

After becoming Jones' first official visitor this past weekend, Johnson became Jones' first commitment Sunday, telling UT coaches he'd be flipping from Auburn and enrolling at Tennessee in time for the spring semester. Johnson is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound athlete prospect who is rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports and Rivals.com. Though he has played receiver and defensive back in high school, he's likely to project as a cornerback or safety at UT.

He runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and had offers from tons of quality schools including Auburn, LSU, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Duke, N.C. State, Purdue, South Florida and others.

The commitment of Johnson comes after a week where Tennessee mutually parted ways with linebackers Dominic Zanca and Colton Goeas. The only negative thing about Goeas' decommitment likely means the courtship with four-star offensive lineman Reeve Kohler also ends. The Vols are not likely to sign linebacker Zach Barnes and are fighting to keep several commitments they want to hang on to.

The Vols currently have 17 commitments, but there have been rumors that Barnes and tight end commitment Chauntez Jackson haven't yet been contacted by the new staff, so if that is indeed the case, it would bring the Vols to 15, and it is expected that Jones will sign his full allotment of 25.With the status of Camion Patrick up in the air academically, it looks like the Vols can do some work -- and have some work to do -- on the recruiting trail. Johnson can back-count to last season if he enrolls mid-term.

Hopefully, Johnson won't be the only player who was once committed to Auburn to flip. The Vols are really working on trying to flip several of those players or get some of the guys who decommitted from the Tigers to look at the Vols. Get ready for a wild ride leading up to National Signing Day.

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