Reports from Bruce Feldman and The Advocate’s Brooks Kubena indicate that LSU will bring in longtime NFL assistant Bill Johnson to work with the Tiger defensive line this season, subbing in for an injured Dennis Johnson.
Bill Johnson, a Monroe native, worked with Ed Orgeron very early in their respective careers, but has been with several NFL teams since 2001, including a stint with the New Orleans Saints during their 2009 Super Bowl run, and most recently the Los Angeles Rams, where he worked with Aaron Donald during one of his best seasons.
Dennis Johnson is currently wheelchair bound after tearing both patella tendons in a pickup basketball game this summer (ouch). He and LSU will have a special waiver from the NCAA that will allow him to still be active in recruiting, but Bill Johnson will handle on-field coaching for the program in practice and on the sideline in games. Alabama has been able to create a similar setup in the past with long-time offensive line guru Joe Pendry.
Bill Johnson is an old hand at defensive line coaching, working at various major college jobs through the 90s before breaking into the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. He’s since steadily been able to find work. From a nuts-and-bolts teaching perspective, he’s about as good as you’ll find. LSU had tried to make things work with Dennis Johnson doing what he could alongside defensive analyst Kenechi Udeze and grad assistant Christian LaCouture. But when a veteran coach like Bill Johnson expresses interest in filling in, that’s a win-win.
This is likely a short-term deal until Dennis Johnson is back at full speed, but kind of gives LSU the best of both worlds, with another strong teacher on staff while the younger coach is still free to work what has become a pretty special defensive line recruiting class. I’d be curious to see if the elder Johnson is maybe looking to wind his career down and would shift into an analyst role after the season.