The Texas Longhorns have scored a recruiting victory in the form of JUCO transfer Gary Johnson. Johnson, who is one of the highest-rated junior college players in the country, announced that he is committed to Texas Football.
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Johnson will bring incredible versatility to the Longhorns. At Dodge City Community College in Kansas, Johnson thrived as a middle linebacker who took over games.
Johnson’s tape shows a player who is fundamentally sound, quickly locates the ball, makes clean tackles, and can make game-changing plays. He faced lesser talent at the JUCO level, but he should be a great fit against Big 12 offenses.
Texas needed a Robin to go with Malik Jefferson as Batman. Johnson, assuming he plays right away, will bring physicality to make open-field tackles and speed to chase down speedy Big 12 WRs.
Gary Johnson’s Background A Plus
In May 2016, Gary Johnson wrote on Twitter that he received zero Division I college offers coming out of high school. This was mainly because he did not have his life together before college. He was told by teachers that his grades and attitude would make him ineligible for big-time programs.
So, he went the JUCO route and grew into a star. “I currently hold 23 Division I offers and (am) the #1 ranked JUCO player in the nation,” Johnson wrote in May. Eight months later, Johnson committed to Texas and new coach Tom Herman.
“Moral of the story is never let anyone tell you (that) you aren’t going to make it,” Johnson wrote. “Junior College isn’t what people thought it is … it prepares you for what the real world has in store!”
Johnson wrote a similar message on Friday when he announced that he committed to Texas to finish college. “I’ve dreamed for this opportunity to attend a Division 1 program and today is the day I shut down my recruitment. I will be attending the University of Texas for the next few years,” he wrote.
Johnson will bring maturity to the football field and locker room that will help Texas grow as a team. The defense was so young during the end of Charlie Strong’s tenure that it was tough to find leaders during a difficult time. Johnson will fill that void right away.
How Will Gary Johnson Fit in New Defense?
Johnson’s off-field experience is invaluable. And, his on-field skills translate very nicely to Texas’ new defense led by DC Todd Orlando, which is likely why he selected the Longhorns.
At the University of Houston, Orlando emphasized the LB position. Their linebacking crew, along with star freshman Ed Oliver, was instrumental in sacking Heisman winner Lamar Jackson 11 times. The LBs also made life miserable for Oklahoma’s Heisman finalist Baker Mayfield in the 2016 season opener.
Orlando likes to bring LB blitzes from all over the field. Malik Jefferson will certainly thrive as an edge rusher and Johnson will bring heavy pressure from the middle.
In 2017, Texas’ LB crew will feature Johnson, Jefferson, and a combination of Edwin Freeman, Anthony Wheeler, Naashon Hughes, Demarco Boyd, the package of Malcolm Roach and Breckyn Hager, and incoming freshman recruit Marqez Bimage.
Now, the LB crew looks like the strength of Texas’ team. Orlando has some big-time playmakers at his disposal to disrupt opponents. And, Johnson should be instrumental in turning around a defensive unit that has struggled in recent years.