Tom Herman received a huge boost today when Dodge City (KS) Community College linebacker Gary Johnson committed to Texas. Johnson officially visited Austin last week, and sources reported the trip went extremely well for Texas. Johnson chose the Longhorns over offers from Arizona State, Louisville, Miami, USC, Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Ole Miss, TCU, and Oregon among many others.
Johnson is recognized as the top JUCO inside linebacker by most recruiting services in the market. He speaks openly on his twitter about how he overcame a troubled past to ultimately succeed on the gridiron and receive opportunities to better his education. A one-time Alabama commit, Johnson opened his recruitment in November, and his relationship with this staff goes back to their time at Houston. Texas was able to sell Johnson on early playing time, and Todd Orlando was instrumental in this recruitment. Johnson will enroll during the summer where he figures to factor in at the linebacker spot immediately. Todd Orlando said on many occasions that he looks for guys who can run and hit, and as youâ€™ll see, Johnson can certainly do that.
Johnson is undersized for the traditional inside linebacker role at 6â€™1, 220 lbs., but he should fit in a passing league like the Big 12. Heâ€™s quick to read and diagnose plays, and he flies to the ball like a missile. He plays with discipline, and creates quite an impact with the ball carrier. Johnson can run sideline to sideline, and he makes plays at the point of attack and from the back side. He shows great explosion off the snap, and he could excel as an inside blitz guy. His ability in coverage will play up in a passing league. Johnson looks comfortable in his backpedal, and he has great ball skills as evidenced by multiple interceptions on his highlight. His motor runs hot, and in every clip you see heâ€™s a max effort guy who plays at full speed. Johnson shows great change of direction and stop/start ability, which allows him to track down ball carriers in the open field. He shows a physical approach with plenty of aggression, and he form tackles well. Johnson routinely keeps his feet moving while wrapping up and exploding through the ball carrier. He shows a willingness to take on offensive linemen at the point of attack, and he uses his hands well to combat size difference. Johnson is also a stand out on special teams, where he is typically the first down the field on kick coverage.
This is probably the biggest win of the class in terms of instant impact. Johnson was not a full qualifier out of high school, so he comes to Texas with 3 years to play 2. Heâ€™s just what the doctor ordered for Todd Orlando to augment the lack of true depth at the inside linebacker position. Expect Johnson to push for a starting spot from the moment he steps on campus. While he does have some issues with his size to overcome, he should be able to play at an all-conference level with a chance at the NFL in his future.
Guy on OB who knows Ward and coached him said that Ward was a pass first QB in high school. He moved to WR to get early playing time at Houston. He also said Heard is much better runner than Ward but Ward is a lot further along than Heard will ever be in the passing game. Heard is slow through is progressions and holds the ball too long as well. Also does not read defenses very well. This person said Ward was very good at these things.