Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas and previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was the 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Johnson bringing energy, edge in secondary
Arkansas defensive back Lorando Johnson runs Thursday, March 16, 2023, during practice inside the Willard and Pat Walker Pavilion in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — When asked about Baylor transfer Lorando Johnson on Thursday, wide receiver Andrew Armstrong looked down and shook his head.
A transfer from Texas A&M-Commerce, Armstrong knows Johnson and his style of play from their prep days. Johnson, a former standout at Lancaster High School in Texas who goes by the nickname “Snaxx,” and Armstrong, who played at Bishop Dunne in Dallas, faced one another in 7-on-7 tournaments.
The 6-4 receiver recalls Johnson pushing him to become a better player years ago.
“That was my first time I ever met Snaxx. Back then, I wasn’t the receiver I am now, so he was really just sitting on everything,” Armstrong said. “I was like, ‘Bro, what am I supposed to do?’ This was when I didn’t really know receiver play in-depth like I do now.”
Johnson again this spring is helping Armstrong, and Arkansas’ other receivers, develop on the perimeter.
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“We battle every day I go against him. We talk about it after practice,” Armstrong added. “Things he can do better, things I can do better just to make each other better. At the end of the day, we’re competing against each other, but...we’re going to end up going against other teams.
“That just helps me and helps him when we talk about things like that.”
Through 11 spring practices, it appears Johnson has played his way into a potential starting role in the Razorbacks’ secondary. In portions of practice open to reporters, he has received first-team reps at cornerback and nickel.
Johnson, a redshirt junior who finished with 16 tackles, 5 pass breakups and 1 forced fumble at Baylor in 2022, is an outspoken defensive back who brings physicality to the table, teammates say.
“He loves to talk,” transfer receiver Isaac TeSlaa said. “He’s going to dap you up and let you know if you ran a good route. He’s going to let you know. If you’re being physical, he’s going to let you know.”
Johnson, who posted an overall defense grade of 75.0 last season, according to Pro Football Focus, believes he is the piece that Arkansas needed in its defensive backfield.
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“The competition [at cornerback], it's a competition that keeps us all going to keep getting better, because we all respect each other's game,” Johnson said Saturday. “It keeps driving all of us. I feel like it was a good group.
“It just needed that extra help.”
It is evident that Johnson adds confidence and edge to the Arkansas secondary. Asked about his spring-time work at nickel, he added, “I’m a football player. I don’t really have a position.”
In 2022, Johnson posted a coverage mark of 76.2 in 359 such snaps, per PFF. He had coverage-grade highs of 85.5 against Oklahoma State and 80.2 vs. Oklahoma.
“The tape speaks for itself,” Johnson said. “I bring energy. I don’t know if I’m just trash talking. I don’t know. Whatever gets [receivers] off their game.
“Whatever gives the defense an advantage, I will [do it].”
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