Jakob Johnson (right) and Austin Smith (left) battle with each other during the Orange and White Game.

Tennessee football TE Jakob Johnson finally has ‘some hands’

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Senior Jakob Johnson has done whatever the Tennessee football program has asked of him in his career.

Johnson came to the Vols as a linebacker but switched to tight end when the coaches asked following his freshman season. The transition hasn’t always been the easiest one, but heading into his final season Johnson said he put the work in to contribute.

“I mean, I haven’t dropped a ball since spring, so I hope so,” Johnson said Friday at media availability. “When I first got moved over, I had no hands. I feel like now I have some hands.”

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Johnson caught 2 passes in his Tennessee’s career — both last season — for 10 yards.

“Since I made the switch from linebacker, I had a quiet couple of years,” Johnson said. “I’ve been working every day and getting better at the things I need to improve and things are finally paying off.

“I think transitioning to a position that I’ve never really played before probably played a big role.”

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One reason for Johnson’s optimistic outlook this season has to do with a summer coaching change.

Tennessee promoted tight end coach Larry Scott to offensive coordinator, which could mean increased use of tight ends this season.

“It’s kind of a mindset. When Coach Scott came in, it really kind of rejuvenated everybody,” Johnson said. “Everybody has a new focus and a new commitment to getting better and really also believing in yourself and believing that we’re going to make plays at the tight end position.

“If you want to be a tight end in his offense, you have to be able to make plays on the ball. You also have to be physical and very tough in the run game.”