By Jonathan Deal
After a standout career at Athens, Johnnie Anderson made it official Wednesday, signing his national letter of intent to attend Tennessee Tech University. Like hundreds of other seniors across the country, Anderson made his commitment official on national signing day, held the first Wednesday every February.
“I knew it would come down to my visit to Tennessee Tech,” said Anderson about his decision. “I liked Cookeville (Tenn.), the coaches, and the players. It just felt like home.”
Anderson joins the Ohio Valley Conference School, which finished 5-7 last season. The Athens senior could make an immediate impact playing in the same defensive scheme as his senior year at Athens.
“They run a 4-2-5 with a three safety system,” said Anderson. “The Rover plays more of an outside linebacker on the strong side of the field. That’s what I will play at Tennessee Tech.”
The 5-foot, 10-inch, 200-pound safety was a First Team All-State selection this year after leading Athens to the 5A quarterfinals. Anderson recorded 75 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, three interceptions, six fumble recoveries and eight forced fumbles.
“Johnnie came in and started every game he’s ever been a part of at Athens High School,” said Athens head coach Allen Creasy. “He started as freshman, playing at a high-level and has continued that throughout his career. He was the rock that we built our defense around. He’s going to be tough to replace. Hopefully, the work ethic and the character that he showed will carry on in the players that are still here.”
Family and friends surrounded Anderson at a ceremony Wednesday morning. Anderson signed his letter of intent next to his parents, beaming with pride.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Johnnie Anderson Sr. “He started out when he was 6-years-old knocking people out, so might as well finish his career that way. I’m proud of him. He is very humble, but I can get a few words out of him sometimes.”
Northern signs with Cumberlands
Athens senior Taylor Northern joined Anderson on national signing day. The senior defensive end signed with the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
“I’d like to thank my family, coaches, teammates and teachers,” said Northern. “I chose the University of Cumberlands because they have strong academics, I really like the coaches and just a really great football team.”
Northern was part of a defensive line that made Athens one of the best defenses in the state. The senior was an All-County honorable mention selection after a solid senior season with the Golden Eagles.
“Taylor has overcome several different injuries during his career,” said Creasy. “He’s worked very hard to get himself to this point. He’s a very conscientious player. Last year, he played defensive end, linebacker and kind of led into the position that he played this year — one that requires a very diverse skill set. He played with great intensity and with a great motor and I think that’s one of the things that drew people to him.”
Northern will most likely play linebacker in Cumberlands’ 3-3-5 system.