• John Macon Gillespie

From Jamie To Jett, Hammond Knows LBs

Tupelo’s Trent Hammond is one of Mississippi’s sharpest defensive minds. His defenses are usually known to be stingy, smart and over-achieving. He gets the best out of his players year in and year out. And he has coached his share of talented linebackers, most recently Justin Clifton and James Gilleylen, and previously Jamie Collins of the New England Patriots.

It seems the next in line has already shown himself in Jett Johnson. Johnson was the every-down middle linebacker for the Golden Wave last season. He was magnificent against the run, more-than-serviceable in coverage and always around the ball.

In fact rarely did Johnson look like he was a sophomore. It’s hard to believe a player as physically developed and polished still has two more seasons left at the high school level. At times he looks unchallenged.

His stats reflected his omnipresence in the Tupelo defense. He finished 2015 with 155 tackles, six sacks, five forced fumbles and three interceptions. His 10 tackle, two pick performance against cross-county rival Shannon was dominant. He made 15 tackles or more in six games this season, including a season-high 19 against Southaven.

“I would get up sometimes before school and go lift. The days I didn’t do that I would go lift after practice. So it was just hard work,” Johnson said when asked how he put together that kind of season as a sophomore. “I had great teammate leadership from the older guys and of course help from the man upstairs.”

In order to not be overwhelmed this offseason, Johnson decided he would choose three camps to attend. One of those he will take in will be the Fortius Project at ICC on April 30.

“I want to go to camps because I want to get my name out there so I might could get a scholarship,” Johnson explained. “Also, it’s a good experience to play with the top talent in Mississippi.”

This offseason he is looking to improve his ability to read the offensive line and get to the ball better and faster. He also would like be a better teammate and leader, which usually comes with experience, which he has plenty of by now. The 7-on-7 portion of camps, like Fortius, interests him particularly because he sees a chance to improve on another area he is focusing on.

“It helps with dropping back into my pass zones and reading the quarterback’s eyes,” Johnson told SES Mississippi.

The Wave ended the regular season basically playing in “playoff mode” for the final three weeks. It was a big accomplishment for them to make the playoffs, considering how some situations played out against their favor last Fall. However, they feel in their opening round playoff match-up against Warren Cental. Johnson has a few things in mind of how they can get back to where they were in 2013 when they played for the 6A title.

“We will need to eliminate distractions, have good leadership, be positive-minded, be focused and make sure we can work as hard as we can,” Johnson said.

With senior quarterback Daniel Bristow and others moving on, part of that leadership that will be needed should come from Johnson. If his leadership equals his play from 2015, the Wave could prove difficult to deal with this fall.

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