Jermaine Johnson transferring again, leaving Georgia leadership opportunity for more snaps

Georgia football-South Carolina-redemption
Jermaine Johnson, left, wants more snaps than he's getting on Georgia's top defense so he's transferring out.

ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart was molding Jermaine Johnson into a leader, but the talented outside linebacker has a higher priority on getting a larger snap count and will enter the  NCAA transfer portal.

Johnson’s father confirmed the news to the Athens Banner-Herald that his son was leaving, dissatisfied with the rotation the SEC’s top-ranked total defense and the nation’s No. 1-ranked rush defense uses along its front.

“You can’t get to the league without film,” Jay Johnson told the Athens newspaper, “and the constant rotation for no reason, that’s not going to do it.”

Smart talked up Johnson last week, discussing how far he has come in the system and how he was evolving into a team leader.

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Georgia will have some reloading to do on defense, and Jermaine Johnson looked to be a big part of leading that unit.

“I think he’s just starting to come into his own,” Smart said last week. “He’s gotten really comfortable with our calls, our games, our pass-rush stuff. He’s rushed more this year.”

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Johnson started three games this season and is second on the team with five sacks this season.

The Bulldogs are very talented and deep at outside linebacker with redshirt sophomore Azeez Ojulari, sophomore Nolan Smith and junior Adam Anderson also at the position.

Johnson came to the Bulldogs from Independence (Kan.) Community College before the 2019 season.

Smart sent Johnson to speak to the media several times this season, a team spokesman role typically reserved for team leaders or weekly standouts.

Smart said that’s what Johnson has become, overcoming an injury last season and growing into a very good football player.

“Anytime you go through the junior college ranks, you want to get a phenomenal player that can impact your team immediately,” Smart said. “He had an injury early in camp when he first got here. He had a high ankle sprain, and it really slowed him down in terms of developing and getting better.

“He has a lot of natural talents. He’s extremely athletic, fast. He plays the sand backer position really well. The fact that he can set edges and play man-to-man and rush the passer.”

Johnson could have turn pro and been selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. Wherever he ends up, he will be an impact player.

Johnson is the fifth Georgia player to enter the NCAA transfer portal, but the first who was expected to play a significant role on next season’s team.

Georgia is expected to sign between 14 and 20 players on the early signing day on Wednesday, so more attrition is expected.

Georgia football class breakdown

(List does not include players who have declared they are leaving, or have entered there NCAA portal.)

RS Senior/grad transfer (2)

WR Demetris Robertson DT Julian Rochester Seniors (4) OG Justin Shaffer DT Devonte Wyatt OLB Walter Grant MLB Nate McBride RS Juniors  (7) QB Stetson Bennett WR Matt Landers OLB Robert Beal STAR William Poole CB Eric Stokes CB Ameer Speed S Latavious Brini Juniors (10) RB James Cook OL Jamaree Salyer C Trey Hill NT Jordan Davis OLB Adam Anderson MLB Channing Tindall MLB Quay Walker CB Tyson Campbell S Chris Smith P Jake Camarda RS Sophomores (9) QB JT Daniels RB Zamir White TE John FitzPatrick WR Tommy Bush WR Kearis Jackson OT Owen Condon OG Warren Ericson DE Tramel Walthour OLB Azeez Ojulari Sophomores (9) RB Kenny McIntosh WR George Pickens WR Dominick Blaylock DE Travon Walker OLB Nolan Smith MLB Nakobe Dean MLB Trezmen Marshall STAR Tyrique Stevenson S Lewis Cine RS Freshmen (9) TE Ryland Goede TE Brett Seither OT Xavier Truss OT Warren McClendon C Clay Webb NT Tymon Mitchell DT Bill Norton DT Zion Logue MLB Rian Davis Freshmen (24) QB Carson Beck RB Kendall Milton RB Daijun Edwards TE Darnell Washington WR Marcus Rosemy WR Jermaine Burton WR Arian Smith WR Justin Robinson WR Ladd McConkey OT Broderick Jones OT Tate Ratledge OT Chad Lindberg OT Austin Blaske OG Devon Willock C Sedrick Van Pran C Cameron Kinnie DT Jalen Carter DT Warren Brinson DT Nazir Stackhouse OLB Mekhail Sherman CB Jalen Kimber CB Kelee Ringo S Major Burns K Jared Zirkel

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