Talented defensive lineman from Athens Academy makes his college decision

Athens Academy senior lineman Johnerio "JJ" Holt looks to the sideline.
Athens Academy senior lineman Johnerio "JJ" Holt looks to the sideline.

After several years on the recruiting trail, talking with coaches from all over and visiting several schools, Johnerio Holt ended his recruitment Tuesday.

The 2022 defensive lineman from Athens Academy announced in a tweet that he plans to play college football at Samford, committing to the Bulldogs over more than 10 schools including East Carolina, Liberty and Navy.

"Samford as a whole is just amazing," Holt told the Athens Banner-Herald Tuesday afternoon. "I feel that Samford really and truly wants kids to come out and not only represent Samford, but also become their better selves."

In his three years as a starter with the Spartans, Holt played on both sides of the ball — on the offensive line and at defensive end. When he gets to Birmingham, he'll play defense. He said he feels comfortable there because Samford and Athens Academy run similar defensive schemes.

He took an official visit to Samford this past weekend.

"While I was there, they were straight to the point and that's what I like within the coaching staff and players," Holt said. "It's always cool to hear the sweet and dandy, but I just like to hear it the way that it is."

More Holt: Two-way lineman Johnerio Holt uses his 'powerful voice' to lead Athens Academy football

Holt plans to major in business at Samford and says living in Birmingham will give him opportunities for life after football.

"The city of Birmingham being with Samford just gives you a whole lot more access to network," he said. "(Samford) molds you into a young man or young woman and become your better self. Putting the right foot forward so that once you leave and go off to do real life things in the real world, boom. You're set with everything you need to have."

In his final year at Athens Academy, Holt racked up 83 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and three fumble recoveries. He was also named the Region 8-A Private Defensive Player of the Year.

There's no special signing day ceremony planned for Holt next week on National Signing Day, and that is just okay for the lineman.

"I don't go for the big and flashy and all that cool stuff," Holt said. "I mean it's very cool to be invited to stuff like that, but hey for me, man, I just want to sign the papers, let everybody know where I'm heading and get to work."

More: Keeping up with which Athens area seniors signed, committed to play college football

McClain Baxley is a recruiting reporter for the Athens Banner-Herald and the USA TODAY Network. Reach him by email at mbaxley@onlineathens.com or on Twitter at @mcclainbaxley.

This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Athens Academy football DL Johnerio Holt commits Samford