Needing some momentum after what was largely a difficult week in recruiting, the Texas Longhorns received some monumental news on Friday when Dodge City CC linebacker Gary Johnson pledged to head coach Tom Herman and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando:
Committed™ UT #hookem pic.twitter.com/q0pveMycgE— I Hate QB's & RB's‼️ (@_GaryJohnson) January 20, 2017
The 6’1, 225-pounder took an official visit to Austin last weekend and was Orlando’s top target on the board since the ‘Horns desperately need an instant-impact middle linebacker.
In Johnson, there’s no question that Texas found that.
A former Alabama commit boasting nearly 30 offers, Johnson had invitations to play at many of the top schools in the country —- including Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, TCU, and USC, among others.
Originally set to visit the Ducks and Trojans over the next two weekends, Johnson will likely cancel those trips as a result of his commitment to the Longhorns, which is further good news for the staff, which will no longer have to sweat through those official visits.
Ranked as a consensus four-star prospect, Johnson is the No. 6 junior college prospect and the No. 1 linebacker in the junior college ranks, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Johnson has a listed 40-yard dash of 4.26 seconds and a vertical leap of 39.4 inches, both numbers backed up by his film.
Expect him to immediately compete for a starting job and allow junior Malik Jefferson to move to a more natural position on the weak side.
As a prospect, Johnson has absolutely elite speed and quickness and remarkable striking ability when he finds the football. His film at linebacker is some of the best in recent memory for a Texas commit, even compared to Jefferson, who was a consensus five-star prospect and the state’s top player in 2015.
In other words, it’s hard to overstate just how big this pledge is for the Longhorns — early enrollee running back Toneil Carter is a stud, but Johnson fills a bigger need and is an absolutely elite prospect at the position.
Here’s another evaluation of Johnson from Ian Body of Inside Texas:
How he fits at Texas: Johnson could be one of the most important recruits of the 2017 class. He’s ultra-quick playing in the box and can scrape laterally as well as anyone on the roster but with a much better idea of what he’s trying to accomplish. This is what an ideal, modern inside linebacker looks like. Johnson is quick and smart enough to handle option or spread passing schemes but also sturdy enough to fill inside and handle lead run schemes. He would probably start at mike linebacker immediately for Texas, pushing Orlando to get creative with guys like Ed Freeman and Malik Jefferson.
Nice work by Todd Orlando.
Johnson is the 15h pledge for Texas in the 2017 class, which vaults from No. 30 nationally to No. 25 with Johnson’s pledge, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. The ‘Horns still rank second in the Big 12 behind the Sooners.