Following two additions to the Auburn program in January, in-state linebacker Thomas Johnston has grown increasingly close to the Tigers.
His former high school teammate Tre Threat — a former three-star linebacker — enrolled at Auburn in January, shortly after the program named Kevin Steele as its defensive coordinator. Those two moves in particular have since shaped his relationship with the in-state school.
“(Threat) says they work hard and they have big expectations for next year,” said Johnston, who attended Auburn’s Junior Day event two weeks ago. The three-star outside linebacker worked around his baseball schedule to unofficially visit on the Plains.
“Him and I went on a couple of visits last year. Without him helping me out, Auburn wouldn’t have been an option. I don’t know.”
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker from Spanish Fort, Ala., is being recruited at inside linebacker by most schools, including Auburn. First-year linebackers coach Travis Williams and Steele have courted Johnston since accepting their new positions, as he’s among a handful of linebackers Auburn is targeting in 2017 after signing just one in February.
“Coach Steele and I are pretty close with him leaving LSU,” said Johnston. “Coach Williams, we’re definitely getting there. We’ve been talking weekly. I’d definitely say I have a strong relationship with these coaches.”
Added Johnston: “(Steele) recruited me hard at LSU. The day after he got the (Auburn) job, he offered me. That means a lot coming from him.”
But the Tigers aren’t the only ones in pursuit of Johnston, who, without naming any official leaders, mentioned Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Florida and UAB among the schools that are standing out in his recruitment.
Per the 247Sports’ Crystal Ball predictions, which aggregates predictions from reporters across the country, Auburn is the clear-cut favorite to sign Johnston in 2017.
All rankings are according to the 247Sports Composite