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Anthony Johnson lends expertise on coaching changes to Virginia teammates

Anthony Johnson
Cornerback Anthony Johnson. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Anthony Johnson came to Virginia after playing through a coaching change at Louisville looking for a fresh start.

Now the veteran cornerback is a shoulder to lean on for his UVA teammates as they all prepare for the upcoming transition from Bronco Mendenhall to Tony Elliott.

“I’m very impressed with Coach Elliott,” Johnson said. “He’s very intellectual. I love that he’s big on family and faith, something that Coach Mendenhall and his program, you know, instilled in us and was big. And just seeing that transfer over here, I think that’d be really good with the transition.”

Johnson logged a career-high 777 snaps for the Virginia D in 2021, recording 46 tackles, and shining in coverage – allowing 24 catches on 51 targets, a 47.1 percent completion rate, for 322 yards and three TDs, with three INTs and 6 pass breakups, and an NFL passer rating against of 62.7, best on the squad.

AJ is nothing if not adaptable – he had three different defensive coordinators in his three years at Louisville, so assuming Elliott doesn’t retain the current staff from Mendenhall, a safe assumption, he’ll go a perfect five-for-five in that respect in his college career.

“I know I’ll be able to adapt to whatever comes in and, you know, just excited to see who we bring in, and what scheme we’re going to run, and how we’re going to get out there,” Johnson said.

The experience of going through a coaching change and having to adjust to different coordinators and schemes is something that Johnson is trying to share with his teammates.

“I just wanted to stay calm,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want to panic or do anything out of emotions, you know, just analyze everything and just take everything day by day. A lot of guys, I feel like, you know, we did a great job of encouraging one another to just, you know, let’s stay together guys, no matter what’s going on here. You know, we’re a team and, you know, whoever comes in, let’s just have full trust and buy in.

“You know, me being in a different institution and transferring here, going through that staff change was a little bit different because that staff got fired, but here, this was something big that the guys had never faced, never been through, and just a lot of uncertainties that they had, and I’ve just been doing my best of reaching out to those guys, and you know, just kind of being there as a teammate, you know, first, just, let’s just take this thing day by day,” Johnson said.

“I understand you’ve got to do what’s best for you, but like, let’s not make any emotional decisions yet. Let’s just play this thing out and see who we can get in here. I’ve been doing a good job of talking to those guys and just trying to get them all to come back,” Johnson said.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press