Gary Johnson committed to Alabama over Baylor, but there truly wasn’t a second-place finisher for his services.
Johnson, a 2017 junior college linebacker from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, said there was nothing Baylor could do to compete with Alabama because he’s always envisioned himself in a Crimson Tide jersey.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder gave the news of his commitment to Alabama wide receivers coach Billy Napier and Nick Saban Sunday night. There were plenty of emotions running through Johnson’s mind.
“I was excited and nervous at the same time because that’s my dream school,” Johnson said of what he felt when making that phone call to Alabama. “It really is a blessing to have them offer me knowing that they don’t really offer JUCO players. For them to give me this opportunity, it’s incredible.”
The Alabama coaching staff has high hopes for Johnson, who has two years of eligibility remaining plus a redshirt season if the Crimson Tide elect to use it.
Johnson said the staff has compared him to one of Alabama’s best linebackers of all-time.
“C.J. Mosley was one of my favorite players at one point in time,” Johnson said. “It shows me that they have big plans for me. For the coaching staff to think of me as one of those types of players like Mosley was, they feel like I can play a big role in Alabama’s defense.”
Johnson, who played his high school ball at Douglas (Ala.) High School, said he hasn’t visited Tuscaloosa since his junior year of high school, and that wasn’t even a visit as a recruit. It was just to watch a game.
He plans on visiting again this May once he returns home from Kansas. Just because he hasn’t visited the school in a few years, don’t expect Johnson to re-think his commitment.
In fact, during that phone call with Saban Sunday night, it was made clear to Johnson that Alabama expects Johnson to remain solidified with his commitment.
“Saban told me that once you are committed to Alabama, they are committed to you,” Johnson said. “They’re not with all of the de-committing and re-committing. You’re committed to Alabama or you’re not.”
Johnson is set to graduate from Dodge City Community College in December, so he will be able to participate in spring practice next season.
Coming out of Douglas High School, Johnson admits that he didn’t take school seriously. His academic performance didn’t allow him the opportunities to play football for his dream school, Alabama.
Now that he has this opportunity, Johnson said he’s excited because his family won’t have to travel far to watch their son play.
“It’s so much better than signing with a school in Hawaii or somewhere like that where it wouldn’t be easy to watch me play,” Johnson said. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Johnson recorded 133 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and two touchdowns last season.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.