Gary Johnson seemingly committed to Alabama out of nowhere when he chose the Tide in late March.
His commitment to Alabama was a surprise because he had not visited Tuscaloosa since his junior year of high school. That changed on Monday.
The four-star linebacker visited both Alabama and Georgia in the past few days. Johnson told Jeff Sentell of DawgNation that his commitment to Alabama isn’t 100 percent.
“I still feel like there is a 70 percent chance I go to Alabama,” Johnson said. “I am 70 percent committed, but at the same time I still have to take trips to visit other places to give them the opportunity to show me what they have that Alabama might not have or what about their program that is better than Alabama’s program.”
The Dodge City Community College standout told both schools that he would visit both programs as soon as he got home from Kansas. Though Johnson played his high school ball at Douglas High School in Northern Alabama, he considers himself a Georgia boy. That’s where his mother lives.
Despite that, Johnson grew up wanting to play for Alabama, which he calls his dream school.
“I always wanted to go play there,” he said. “I grew up an Alabama fan. I knew that would be pretty exciting to play for a championship-caliber team.”
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder will continue taking trips. The Alabama staff has told him they are OK with that, but they do hope he sticks with his commitment.
Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Baylor and Arizona State are the schools recruiting him the hardest right now.
He’s listening to what these schools have to say, but it’s mainly a contingency plan because he’s set on playing for the Tide.
“I am sitting back and observing other schools,” Johnson said. “Just in case something falls through or I end up having to be a May graduate. Or if I don’t feel like Alabama would be the place for me to go after all. That’s kind of why I have not yet closed out my recruiting.”
Alabama usually doesn’t take commitments from junior college prospects this early in the recruiting process, but a special case was made for Johnson. He’s not a typical linebacker. His speed is so elite that he would be able to run with wide receivers on the outside if a team wanted him to.
He had 133 tackles in 12 games last season at Dodge City. His coaches are checking to see if that is a school record.
Johnson credits his play to his training regimen. He runs with a weighted vest and a parachute attached to his back. Each night before bed, he runs up and down a hill near his home 10 times.
He calls himself a “dual-threat linebacker.”
“I can run by you or come up and smash you,” he said. “That sets up for me well at Alabama because they have so many packages to stop the run and then on passing downs. I don’t come off the field because I am a dual threat. The coaches at Alabama say I can play into their base defense in the 3-4 and then also stay on the field when they go to the dime defense or the nickel.”
The nation’s No. 1 junior college inside linebacker is on track to join Alabama this January.
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.