Austin Johnson on switching positions
An offseason virtually free of drama off the field for Tennessee added some just before it ended.
Tennessee linebacker Austin Johnson, 22, was arrested and charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct by the Knoxville Police Department on Sunday morning and was released on $1,000 bond. The senior is scheduled for a court appearance on August 4.
In a statement, UT spokesman Jimmy Stanton confirmed the program was looking into the overnight incident involving a player widely regarded as a leader by his teammates.
“We’re aware of an incident involving Austin,” Stanton said. “We’re in the process of investigating it for additional information.”
The Vols haven’t had to do much digging with their players lately, going all summer without any arrests and more than five months since safety Brent Brewer was picked up and ultimately charged with offensive touching in February.
According to a Knox County Sheriff’s representative, Johnson snapped that streak when he was stopped by police at 3:50 a.m. The charges of disorderly conduct/threatening behavior and public intoxication each carried a bond of $500, which was posted and he was released at 12:57 p.m.
On the field, the senior is expected to be a critical contributor to UT’s largely inexperienced defensive front this fall, particularly given the lack of depth at linebacker.
Johnson spent spring practice working at multiple spots as part of the ongoing cross-training effort to make the Vols more versatile, but he was likely going to enter the season as the starter in the middle before Herman Lathers suffered a fractured ankle this summer. That loss forced Johnson back to a projected position on the outside as he tries to follow up on a junior campaign that included 44 tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery and 3.5 takedowns for a loss.
Johnson has shown a willingness to move around to help the Vols wherever needed on several occasions in his career, and his reputation within the program was boosted when he switched from fullback to linebacker after his sophomore season -- and at least one teammate was quick to publicly come to his defense on Sunday afternoon.
“Austin is OK,” fellow senior linebacker Shane Reveiz posted on his Twitter account. “He made a mistake, but he was not causing trouble.
“He is a great kid and will learn from his mistake. You can’t live with regrets.”