Junior Colleges

Pearl River’s newest hire has connections to Ole Miss, East Mississippi and Lane Kiffin

Former Ole Miss defender C.J. Johnson hoists the Golden Egg Trophy after helping lead the Rebels past Mississippi State 38-27 on Nov. 28, 2015 in Starkville. After serving as a graduate assistant at East Mississippi Community College and Florida Atlantic the last two seasons, Johnson has been hired to coach the defensive line at Pearl River Community College.
Former Ole Miss defender C.J. Johnson hoists the Golden Egg Trophy after helping lead the Rebels past Mississippi State 38-27 on Nov. 28, 2015 in Starkville. After serving as a graduate assistant at East Mississippi Community College and Florida Atlantic the last two seasons, Johnson has been hired to coach the defensive line at Pearl River Community College. Oxford Eagle

C.J. Johnson just couldn’t stay away from Mississippi.

After spending a year on Lane Kiffin’s first staff at Florida Atlantic, the Philadelphia, Mississippi, native and Ole Miss star announced Wednesday that he’s joining Ted Egger’s staff at Pearl River Community College as the defensive line coach.

“I would like to thank everyone at @FAU_Football for an amazing season and (a) wonderful experience working for the entire staff. Learned a lot from everyone,” Johnson said in a series of tweets. “So blessed to have an amazing opportunity to work for my mentor and coach @chriskiffin. Thank you.”

Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Johnson was a prep All-American out of Philadelphia and went on to star at Ole Miss despite several injuries and moving from the defensive line to linebacker. He finished his collegiate career in 2015 with 180 total tackles, 13.5 sacks and three interceptions. He participated in the 2016 NFL Combine and was later signed as a free agent by the New England Patriots but ended up joining Stephen’s staff at EMCC for the 2016 season. During his year at Netflix’s “Last Chance U,” Johnson cut his teeth in the coaching world and helped the Lions win the 2016 Mississippi Bowl on the Coast.

“The transition’s been almost seamless, just for the simple fact that I knew I wanted to get into coaching right after I was done playing ball,” Johnson told Ben Garrett of the Ole Miss Spirit in February.

From there Johnson moved on to FAU, where he served as a defensive graduate assistant. Johnson and FAU punctuated the start of the Kiffin Era with a 50-3 drubbing of Akron in Tuesday’s Boca Raton Bowl.

Johnson is the third coach with Ole Miss ties to join Egger’s staff at The River, joining offensive line coach Terrence Metcalf and offensive coordinator Ryan Trevathan.

A PRCC spokesperson said the school won’t officially comment on staff changes until after Jan. 1, 2018, but Metcalf did congratulate Johnson on Twitter, welcoming the fellow Rebel to PRCC.

The Sun Herald is working to update this report.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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