Tennessee LB Johnson emerging as leader of defense

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - One year after leading the Southeastern Conference in tackles, Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson is focusing on becoming a better leader of his own defense.

Johnson made 138 tackles last season and averaged 11.5 per game to finish fourth among all Football Bowl Subdivision players, but he couldn't stop Tennessee's defense from ranking statistically among the worst in school history.

Tennessee's new coaching staff doesn't particularly care whether Johnson repeats as the SEC's tackling leader. They just want Johnson to make sure Tennessee's defense improves.

Johnson's received the message.

He isn't spending the preseason talking about how many tackles he wants to make or how many records he wants to break. Johnson instead discusses how he can make Tennessee a winner again.


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