AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn hosted a surprise visitor on Saturday.
In-state defensive end Ryan Johnson made his way to The Plains for the Tigers’ A-Day spring game on Saturday. The visit marked his second since the end of March.
“It was just great getting back up here and seeing how the team plays against each other during the spring game,” said Johnson, who is rated the No. 4 strong-side defensive end in the country.
The four-star prospect from Mobile, Ala., dropped in to get a firsthand look at Auburn in a live scrimmage for the first time since last season. The Tigers have made a few coaching and personnel changes since then, most notably with the hiring of defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and linebackers coach Travis Williams.
Auburn also ushered in several new freshmen in January with the likes of four-star defensive linemen Antwuan Jackson and Marlon Davidson, both of whom have figured into the rotation for the Tigers this spring.
Johnson is intrigued by the opportunity to play relatively early. Playing under the direction of defensive line coach Rodney Garner, he says, is also appealing.
“Coach Garner, he’s a great coach,” Johnson said. “He definitely puts them in a position to succeed, so that is a great thing to see how they play and how I could fit into their system.”
While he has no timetable on when he’ll make a decision, Johnson has a general idea of which schools he’s keying in on. Alabama, Stanford, Michigan and Duke, among others, have caught his eye.
So, too, has Auburn.
“Auburn is definitely (among) my top three schools,” Johnson said. “They were my first offer. That was the first one and a big one. They were my favorite school since I was a kid. They definitely have a lot of good things to offer, so they’re in a good position for me.”
Despite signing five defensive linemen rated four-stars or better in the Class of 2016, the Tigers continue to recruit along the line.
Johnson is one of the many targets Auburn is hoping to sign in February of 2017.
“They’re telling me I’m a priority for them and that means a lot.”