Deandre Johnson: Vols OLB Group "Trying to Become a Force In This Conference"

Matthew Ray

Deandre Johnson played a key part in Tennessee's 31-27 victory over Tennessee on Saturday night. Johnson's 2.5 sacks helped earn him defensive lineman of the week in the SEC, but he had help from the entire position group, especially Kivon Bennett. 

Johnson was asked about Bennett's productivity during the contest, and he said, "Kivon is a guy that comes in every day (and) busts his tail. Without him, I wouldn't have nearly as much production as I did. He's a guy that wreaks havoc on the other side, so we're kind of building a little duo here."

"We got some young guys that have stepped up in the back end, so we’re just trying to become a force in this conference," Johnson told local reporters on Tuesday. 

Johnson and Bennett have stepped into the spotlight for the Vols, but they are joined by a talented trio of younger guys in Roman Harrison, Tyler Baron and Morven Joseph, who are pushing for playing time. 

Johnson said on the younger guys, "Ah man, those guys have just come in and done everything the coaches and their teammates have asked from them. They have definitely pushed us. As a unit, we're just coming together and those guys have been working hard, so I'm glad to see that they’re doing good."

Johnson would continue, "The biggest thing (with the young guys) is the work ethic. Those guys have just come in – they ask questions every day. You see it in their eyes that they’re trying to get better. I’m just excited with that. As a group, we have to get better with reading stances, staying lower in our stances, reading blocks. So I’d say as a group, we have to get better. I wouldn’t point anyone out.”

Johnson will look to build on his first-game success when the Vols host Missouri at Noon ET on Saturday. The game will air on the SEC Network and can be streamed on the watch ESPN App. 

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