Johnson excels off the field

Johnson excels off the field

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – A.J. Johnson ran a personal best 16.53 in the 110-meter hurdles Tuesday, good enough for sixth-place in the Georgia region 7-3A final.

LB A.J. Johnson Profile

Personal best or not, sixth place just wasn't didn't cut it.

"Man, sixth-place, that sucks," he told CUTigers at Flowery Branch High School, shortly after the event.


"I'm out here because I have to stay doing something throughout the school year," Johnson said of his commitment to track. "I'm always busy so I just come out here to get faster and run in practice." (Hale McGranahan)
A Scout.com four-star outside linebacker, Johnson joined the Gainesville High School track team before the spring of his sophomore year to stay in shape for football. But that doesn't take away from the fact that he wants to be the best.

In just his second year on the track he was running in the region final. It was just his third meet of the season.

He's been busy taking unofficial visits and hitting combines for football this spring.

"I'm out here because I have to stay doing something throughout the school year," Johnson said of his commitment to track. "I'm always busy so I just come out here to get faster and run in practice."

Gainesville track coach Tivris Dixon understands where Johnson's heart is, so he didn't mind having him out for only a few meets. Dixon enjoys the extra dose of competitive spirit that Johnson brings out on the track.

"I know he would have rather been out at football practice today, but A.J. just comes out and competes," Dixon said. "He's just a competitor. That's the only reason he's here today."

During his sophomore year on the track, Johnson spent most of the season working on different events, including the triple jump. That season, he didn't qualify for any finals and wasn't sure of what event to claim as his own.

Eventually, he found his niche as a hurdler.


A.J. Johnson is one of the top linebackers on the board for the Clemson coaching staff in the 2011 recruiting class. (Hale McGranahan)
"When I first started, I was just jumping over them crazy. Now, I've got my technique down," Johnson said. "I didn't know I could do hurdles as good as I can do them. I just have to get my technique down and getting the team some points."

Johnson has stepped up to compete when needed in other events this spring.

"He's helped out in the 4x100. He's going to do anything. One of the other events he did this year, we had a high jumper who didn't show up," Dixon said. "A.J. goes, ‘I'll high jump.' He had never tried it before. He ended up clearing 5'8.

"That's just the type of kid he is. Anything you put him in, he'll go do it…if asked him today to enter the two-mile, he'd run it until he fell out."

Of course, CUTigers also spoke extensively with Johnson about the latest with his recruitment. Stay tuned later Tuesday evening for that update.


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