The “Freak” plans to stay close to home at LSU

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - At 6-foot-3, 290 pounds, Anthony “Freak” Johnson probably isn’t your typical choir boy, although he is by most accounts an outstanding singer.

When he isn’t practicing with the O. Perry Walker High School choir or bugging coaches to let him sing the national anthem before a home game, he’s an absolute menace to opposing quarterbacks.

Johnson goes by the nickname, “Freak,” in part because of his combination of size and speed. The senior, who is on The Associated Press South Region 25 list of top recruits, has been timed by his coaches running 40 yards in about 4.7 seconds.

“He has a constant motor,” Walker coach Emanuel Powell began, “and it’s just unnatural for a 6-3 kid, who weighs 290 pounds, to run a 4.7 40.”

Johnson, who late last year made a verbal commitment to LSU after initially indicating his preference was Tennessee, has one of the quickest first steps of any defensive line prospect in the class of 2011. He is widely expected to contribute in college right away.

“He would be an instant contributor whatever team he goes to,” Powell predicted. “His head is screwed on right and he’s just one of those kids that’s a rare combination of intelligence, football smarts and athleticism. He’s just an outstanding kid.”

One thing coaches like about Johnson is his drive to realize his full potential. Johnson works out with a trainer, Wyatt Harris, and is quick to give Harris much of the credit for his success on the football field.

“We work awful hard everyday on what I can do to make me a better football player and in particular my explosion,” Johnson said. “My ability to get off the ball and get to the quarterback is very important for someone who plays my position and I think it’s due in large part to my training that I have been able to learn how to do that extremely well.

“Sometimes, yes, I recognize you have God-given ability and talent, but hard work will beat that everyday of the week,” Johnson continued. “That is why I work as hard as I can everyday to continue to try and be the best football player I can be.”

As a junior, Johnson was credited with 16 sacks among his 21 tackles for losses. He also forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles, and even had an interception.

“Along with being very strong and quick, he’s very intelligent,” Powell said. “He studies the game and knows the in- and-outs of what opponents are trying to do to him.”

Johnson switched his verbal commitment from the Volunteers to his home-state Tigers on December 18th of last year and now appears to be firmly committed to Les Miles and LSU.

“LSU is my home school,” Johnson said. “Add to that the fact that it is a really good football school and is only one of a couple of schools that has a pair of BCS National Championships” in the past decade.

“The other big thing about LSU is that for years, I have watched growing up that they have had a ton of really good defensive lineman that have helped them win games and then go onto successful careers in the NFL. I want to follow in those footsteps.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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