After coming painfully close to landing such offensive line stalwarts as Roland Martin, Dace Richardson and Dan Doering in the last two years, Tennessee is back in the Land of Lincoln chasing another prized O-lineman this fall.
At 6-foot-4, 315 pounds with five-flat speed, Ramone Johnson is well worth pursuing. As a junior, he helped lead Morgan Park High School to the state playoffs and a 12-1 mark, recording 52 pancake blocks in a dominating campaign that earned him all-conference and Chicago all-city honors. Equally at home playing guard or tackle, Johnson is as powerful as he is agile.
“I'm dominant and aggressive,” he said. “I don't like to lose. For a big guy I'm quick and fast. I'll keep on blocking until the whistle blows. I just want to work on getting quicker."
A self-proclaimed “total smash mouth football player” Johnson bench presses 365 pounds, squats 550 and can power clean 205 pounds five times.
Regarded by many as the best prospect in Illinois this year, Johnson is described by Scout.com experts as: “dominant at the point of contact, he has tremendous power in his legs and his initial punch is also very good. Understands angles and works hard on technique. Will be a very good guard at the next level.”
Tennessee has survived the initial screening process and rates as one of Johnson’s five favorites along with Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and USC. All except the Trojans have extended offers.
The Vols have a couple of factors working in their favor in the recruitment of Johnson. UT’s power running attack is tailor made for his style of play, and an alumni graduate from his high school enjoyed success in Knoxville.
"I like the linemen that Tennessee produces,” he told Chris Pool of Scout.com. “We just had a Morgan Park alumni graduate (former UT defensive end Karlton Neal) from there and get drafted to the Tennessee Titans.”
Rated No. 18 among the Class of 2006 offensive line prospects, Johnson might break UT’s dry spell in the Windy City.