Former LSU defensive line coach Dennis Johnson will return to full-time coaching and join Dave Aranda's staff at Baylor, a source told The Advocate Friday.
Johnson shifted from defensive line coach to analyst just before the 2019 season, after he suffered severe knee injuries playing basketball in the summer, and his departure from Baton Rouge indicates a commitment to his replacement, Bill Johnson.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron hired Bill Johnson, a long-time New Orleans Saints defensive line coach, to a one-year deal in August, which brought up speculation of when or if Dennis Johnson would return to full-time coaching once he recovered from torn patellar tendons in both knees.
“We're going to see what happens,” Orgeron said in August. “Bill is the defensive line coach for this year. Then we're going to revisit everything, see what happens. Nothing can tell what happens in college football. So I'm leaving that door open. See what happens at the end.”
Dennis Johnson was nearing the end of a two-year, $210,000 per year contract that was set to expire on March 31, 2020.
He was a recognizable figure at LSU, a former Tigers defensive tackle who was one of Orgeron's first hires. He was a respected recruiter, a coach who frequently visited Louisiana and Houston and Alabama, and was credited with the 2020 signings of four-star defensive tackles Jaquelin Roy (University Lab) and Eric Taylor (Hewitt-Trussville, Alabama).
The hire gives Aranda, LSU's defensive coordinator the past four seasons, an assistant coach mentored by Orgeron, one of the most respected defensive line technicians in college football, and someone who can help Baylor establish a recruiting foothold in Louisiana.
Johnson is also the second LSU coach Aranda has taken with him to Waco, Texas, where he's replacing former Baylor coach Matt Rhule, who is now the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
Aranda is expected to hire LSU analyst Jorge Munoz.
Rhule hired away former LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady, the 2019 Broyles Award winner, as his offensive coordinator.
Orgeron has been able to retain two others within his staff from reported suitors. Wide receiver coach Mickey Joseph turned down an offer to be Nebraska's passing game coordinator, and defensive back coach Corey Raymond is expected to receive a three-year extension after turning down an offer from Texas A&M.
Johnson graduated from LSU in 2012, and he returned as a graduate assistant in 2014, working with the defensive line. Orgeron elevated him to outside linebackers coach in the middle of the 2016 season, when former coach Les Miles was fired, and Johnson flipped to defensive line coach for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Upon Johnson's injury, he was initially restricted to an electric wheel chair. First-year analyst Kenechi Udeze and graduate assistant Christian Lacouture helped Orgeron with the defensive line until Bill Johnson arrived two weeks into preseason camp.
On Tuesday, Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason officially announced he was hiring Udeze, a former All-American defensive end at Southern Cal, to his staff as a linebackers coach.
Bill Johnson was Orgeron's mentor. Johnson coached Orgeron at Northwestern State in the early 1980s, and Johnson helped him break into coaching at Northwestern, McNeese State and Miami.
After Orgeron's one season as a defensive line coach in the NFL, spent with the Saints in 2008, he recommended Johnson to be his replacement. Johnson coached with the Saints from 2009 until 2016. He then coached two seasons in the same role with the Los Angeles Rams before he was fired and returned to coach with Orgeron at LSU.
In 2019, LSU's defense ranked 31st nationally in scoring defense (21.9 points allowed per game), 20th nationally in total sacks (37) and 23rd in tackles for loss (96).
Defensive end Rashard Lawrence was named second-team All-SEC, and the 6-foot-2, 308-pound senior recorded six tackles for loss and 2½ sacks in 12 games.