Noel Johnson transfers to Auburn

Until recently, Noel Johnson might have rooted for Oregon in the BCS championship game Monday night. "They have some nice jerseys," he said.

But the one-time basketball terror at Fayette County High was shouting "War Eagle" with the rest of the Auburn family. This week, he became one of them.

Johnson, who withdrew from Clemson last month over diminished playing time, transferred to Auburn. The 6-foot-7 player expects to regain his eligibility as early as December.

Johnson became acquainted with Tony Barbee when the first-year Auburn coach was an assistant at Memphis. He enters a program in serious rebuilding mode. Media covering the SEC envisioned Auburn for last place in the West Division, and the Tigers (7-9, 0-2) are headed toward fulfilling the prophesy.

Available playing time was the lure for Johnson.

"That's what the main thing was," he said. "This is an up-and-coming team, and I just want to be a part of it."

Johnson seemed unclear as to why he failed to crack the Clemson lineup. Observers say a coaching change this season came accompanied by a revamped offensive approach that was ill-suited to his style of play.

Auburn is Johnson's third college choice, though he never set foot on the first after signing with USC out of high school. The Trojans released him from the letter-of-intent in 2009 when their coach was chased out by NCAA violations.