JT Johnson and his Gadsden, Alabama-based company Atlas Sports Agency are not recognizable names by the general public, and until recently, were probably unknown by a majority of NFLPA certified Contract Advisors. But that may quickly change based on the 2013 NFL Draft, alone. Thus far, JT Johnson and his agency have signed Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter, California wide receiver Keenan Allen and California quarterback Zach Maynard. Johnson has told Sports Agent Blog that he anticipates signing at least two more players by the end of the college bowl season, but if he only retains the three aforementioned players and signs no more, it will still be quite the “coming out party” for Johnson (and his agency) who does not currently represent any players on NFL active rosters.
There are already rumors circulating, in NFL agent circles, that Tennessee’s Justin Hunter has recently been taking meetings with competing agencies since signing his Standard Representation Agreement with Johnson. In fact, one agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), appears to be the front runner to sign Hunter if he ends up leaving Johnson. Johnson has informed Sports Agent Blog that he has not yet received a termination letter from the wide receiver who could end up being a first or second round draft pick in 2013.
But Hunter is not even the best wide receiver signed to JT Johnson to date. Keenan Allen is largely regarded as the best WR in the 2013 NFL Draft. In fact, quite a few prognosticators have projected Allen as a future first round pick for the Miami Dolphins. His teammate, Zach Maynard, is not ranked nearly as high as Allen or the aforementioned Hunter, and may not make it in the NFL, but Hunter and Allen are locks for the next level.
How has Johnson signed two potential first rounders with a few more potential draftees yet to be announced as clients? Johnson has told Sports Agent Blog that he was really close on a couple of big name prospects last year and only barely missed out on them. He is a new-ish agent (submitted his application to become certified with the NFLPA in January of 2010), but has been an accountant for roughly twenty years. Another big help has come in the form of Fletcher Smith, the President of Blueprint Sports Group, who has represented many successful NFL players in his career, including Donovan McNabb. Smith is a good friend of Johnson’s and is also on Justin Hunter’s Standard Representation Agreement.
Johnson was also once in talks with Timothy Zachery Mosley (better known as the artist Timbaland) to become a part of Atlas Sports Agency. While Timbaland never attached himself to Atlas, Johnson and the musician remain close friends.
Whenever a “smaller agent” begins to sign prized clients, the competition quickly responds by circulating rumors and making accusations about the person’s recruiting strategies. That is certainly par for the course, and no different in the case of JT Johnson. Whether there is any truth to those rumors or not, there is one certain fact – people are talking about Johnson and his company. And Johnson is signing players who will be playing on Sundays. That is why he is, without a doubt, this year’s football agent to watch.